Bill would provide grants to states to implement laws proven to reduce gun violence and gun trafficking
June 13, 2019 — Today, Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization led by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, praised the introduction of the Handgun Purchaser Licensing Act by Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD). The legislation provides grants to states, local governments, and Indian tribes to implement permit-to-purchase systems, which ensure that individuals have passed a background check before purchasing a handgun. In order to be eligible for the federal grant, a state’s permitting system must only issue permits to non-prohibited individuals age 21 or older, require permit applications to come through qualified law enforcement officers and be renewed every five years, complete a background investigation and criminal history check, and require an applicant’s fingerprints and photograph.
“Permit-to-purchase systems are already saving lives where they have been enacted,” said Lindsay Nichols, Federal Policy Director at Giffords. “We know these laws are effective. Congress should encourage states to establish systems of their own that can better stop a dangerous individual from obtaining a handgun to harm others. We applaud Senator Van Hollen and Representative Raskin for introducing this legislation and urge Congress to move swiftly so we can better protect more communities around the country from gunfire.”
Ten states have enacted permit to purchase laws that require prospective purchasers to obtain a permit or license before buying at least some firearms. Studies show that permit to purchase laws can lead to significant reductions in both gun homicides and suicides: when Connecticut enacted a permit to purchase law, its gun homicide rate decreased by 40%, while the gun suicide rate decreased by 15%. Conversely, when Missouri repealed its permitting law, its gun homicide rate increased by 25% and its firearm suicide rate increased by 16%.