- Polling Issues
Firearm background checks

Most people think it’s a good idea to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is a point-of-sale system for determining the eligibility of a person wishing to purchase a firearm. Licensed firearm dealers are required to use this system before selling a gun. The NICBCS system has blocked more than 2 million gun purchases attempted by prohibited buyers during the past 25 years. These rejected buyers included felons, dishonorably discharged veterans, domestic violence and stalking offenders, substance abusers, undocumented immigrants, the mentally ill and those who have renounced their citizenship. Each year, our FBI conducts nearly 20 million background checks for prospective firearm buyers. Advocates say this number is but a fraction of the total number of people who purchase guns. An estimated 40% of all gun transfers take place between private parties who are not required to perform background checks.

Advocates say that states which require background checks for private handgun sales had nearly 40% fewer women shot to death by their intimate partners. They also had nearly 50% fewer firearm suicides and gun trafficking offenses than states which do not require these checks. Opponents warn background checks could create a gun-owner registry that could be someday used to confiscate weapons. Others claim background checks are ineffective because our Justice Department declines to prosecute criminals who try to buy guns. In 2010, more than 76,000 firearm purchase applications were denied. Of these denials, 62 were referred for prosecution and only 13 resulted in guilty pleas or verdicts. Background check supporters acknowledge these shortcomings need to be fixed but say that checking the backgrounds of only about half of those attempting to buy a gun does nothing to advance public safety.

Pending Legislation: S.529 - Background Check Expansion Act (passed House)
Sponsor: Sen. Christopher Murphy (CT)
Status: Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Senate Leader: Sen. Dick Durbin (IL)

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Poll Opening Date
September 19, 2022
Poll Closing Date
September 25, 2022

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