Universal Background Checks

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America needs background checks on every gun sale.

Nearly 40,000 people died from gun violence in 2017. A universal background check requirement will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and save lives.

The US House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, also known as H.R. 8, to close dangerous loopholes and require a background check for every gun sale. Now it’s the Senate’s turn to pass background checks and get a bill to the president’s desk.

Read more about this lifesaving legislation, view a list of organizations that have endorsed the bill, and urge your senators to support H.R. 8.

Background Checks Save Lives

Background checks have stopped more than 3 million illegal gun sales since 1994, but our laws our riddled with loopholes.

18.12 SOC UBC Calls to Action_Do you Need a Background Check

Only federally licensed firearms dealers are required to run a criminal background check. People who are legally prohibited from buying guns can still easily buy one from:

  • A gun show
  • An online seller
  • A person-to-person “private” sale

These gaps in our laws make it far too easy for convicted felons, domestic abusers, and other dangerous people to obtain guns.

There’s no reason a criminal who can’t pass a background check should be able to purchase a firearm from the internet, a gun show, or the trunk of a car.

It’s time to close these loopholes and require a background check for every gun sale.

It’s Time to Close the Loopholes

The evidence is clear: if there are loopholes, criminals will exploit them.

For example, a recent report found that people who bought guns from Armslist.com, a major online marketplace, were nearly four times as likely to have a criminal record that would prevent them from passing a background check.

And 80% of all firearms acquired for criminal purposes are bought through unlicensed sellers. Many of these guns are trafficked from states with weak gun laws to states with strong gun laws, undermining state universal background check laws.

The glaring loopholes and patchwork of state laws show why we need a clear national standard. Congress should pass strong requirements at the federal level to ensure a background check on every gun sale.

Who Supports Background Checks?

Almost everyone. Universal background checks are supported by the vast majority of Americans of every political stripe.

97 of Americans support background checks on every gun sale
The Bipartisan Background Checks Act has broad support from all sectors of American life:

Law Enforcement Organizations

Giffords Law Enforcement Coalition
Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
Hispanic American Police Commanders Association
Major Cities Chiefs
Prosecutors Against Gun Violence

Veterans Organizations

Giffords Veterans Coalition

American Companies

Levi Strauss & Co.
RXT Realty
Dick’s Sporting Goods

Newspaper Editorial Boards

Washington Post Editorial Board: Democrats are making universal background checks a priority. They’re right to do so.
Bloomberg Editorial Board: A welcome push for background checks.
LA Times Editorial Board: The new Congress should expand gun-sale background checks and ban assault-style rifles
Baltimore Sun Editorial Board: The house is finally poised to expand gun background checks
San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board: Time to force the issue on background checks
San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board: Universal gun background checks shouldn’t be controversial
The Press Democrat Editorial Board: Thompson poised for victory on gun safety
New-Times Editorial Board: Close the loopholes in background checks
Gainesville Sun Editorial Board: Demand action to stop deadly shootings
Treasure Coast Palm Editorial Board: Rep. Mast supports universal background checks for gun sales – and so do we
Times Union Editorial Board: A Glimmer of Gun Sanity
Hartford Courant Editorial Board: The new Congress should expand gun-sale background checks and ban assault-style rifles

Medical Organizations

American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American College of Physicians
American College of Preventive Medicine
American College of Surgeons
American Medical Association
American Medical Student Association
American Nurses Association
American Psychological Association
American Public Health Association
Catholic Health Association of the United States
Doctors for America
Emergency Nurses Association
National Association of Social Workers
National Physicians Alliance
This Is Our Lane

Education Organizations and Academics

American Federation of Teachers
National Education Association
National PTA
National Association of Secondary School Principals
Leading Academic Researchers

Human Rights Organizations

Children’s Defense Fund
Human Rights Campaign

Gun Violence Prevention Organizations

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
Everytown for Gun Safety
Grandparents Against Gun Violence
Newtown Action
One Pulse for America

Faith-based Organizations

Bishops Against Gun Violence
Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence
Friends Committee on National Legislation
National Council of Jewish Women
Union for Reform Judaism

Social Justice and Civic Engagement Organizations

Color of Change
League of Women Voters of the United States
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Third Way
US Conference of Mayors

Take Action

Now that the Senate has passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, it’s the Senate’s turn. Few other policies have such widespread support. Call your senators and tell them to support background checks for every gun sale now:

Looking for more ways to get involved? Sign up for our Action Network to get connected with opportunities in your community, or simply sign our petition.


Bill Summaries 

  • H.R. 8: Learn details about the Bipartisan Background Checks Act.
  • H.R. 1112: Learn details about the Charleston Loophole bill, The Enhanced Background Checks Act.

Fact Sheets & Reports

 Press Releases, Statements & Blog Posts