Washington DC—Today, former Representative Gabrielle Giffords released the following statement reacting to the action taken by the US House of Representatives to pass H.R. 1112, The Enhanced Background Checks Act. This legislation will address a deadly loophole in our laws by allowing the FBI additional time to investigate whether potentially dangerous people should be able to obtain guns.
Statement from former Representative Gabrielle Giffords:
“Passing this commonsense legislation is yet another example of how serious the new majority in the House of Representatives is about taking action to make our communities safer from gun violence and build on yesterday’s historic victory to pass the Bipartisan Background Checks Act. The horrifying frequency with which we watch terrifying scenes unfold in our communities because a dangerous person was able to obtain a gun is devastating—and it’s not normal.
“America will never forget what happened at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Places of peace and prayer should never become scenes of terror. Every family in America has the right to worship, work, study, and play without the fear of gun violence. If we’re serious about building a safer America, we have to be serious about advancing solutions. My gratitude is with Congressman Clyburn for his leadership championing this commonsense legislation that will provide law enforcement officers with the time they need to do their job and finish background checks before allowing people who may be at risk of harming themselves or others from obtaining guns. We urge the Senate to follow suit and pass this responsible legislation that will help strengthen the background check system and make our country a safer place.”
Bill Summary: H.R. 1112 – The Enhanced Background Checks Act
ABOUT THE DANGEROUS “CHARLESTON LOOPHOLE” FOR GUN SALES
In 2015, a white supremacist shot and killed nine African American worshipers at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Although he should have failed a background check because of his history of unlawful controlled substance use, his background check was not processed within three days. Under federal law, if a federally licensed dealer who has initiated a background check has not been notified within three business days that the sale would violate federal or state laws, the dealer may proceed with the sale by default. In this case, the dealer proceeded to transfer the gun after the three days elapsed. Approximately two months later, the shooter used that gun to murder nine churchgoers.
While 91% of background checks are processed instantly through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), 9% require further investigation before determining if the firearm transfer in question would violate federal or state law. But due to a gun lobby-backed amendment to the Brady background checks bill of 1993, FBI and ATF agents are only allowed three business days to investigate the potential purchaser. If a gun dealer has not been informed of a final decision after three days, the dealer is legally permitted to proceed with the sale
Default proceed sales, also known as the “Charleston loophole,” exemplify a glaring and dangerous gap in federal gun laws. From 2010 to 2014 alone, 15,729 gun sales that should have been denied were allowed to take place through default proceeds because a final decision could not be made within the three-day window.