- 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 20 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. Current law also prevents a gun dealer from selling a handgun to a person under 21, and any gun to a person under 18. Each year, the FBI conducts an average of 9 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 little to advance public safety. The 2022 Safer Communities Act established an enhanced background check process and up to three-business-day investigative period for buyers under age 21 that requires checking with state law enforcement, local law enforcement, and either state or local courts before a sale proceeds. This also includes reviewing juvenile mental health records for individuals 16 years or older seeking to purchase a firearm.

Proposed Legislation: Reintroduction of S.529 - Background Check Expansion Act (117th Congress 2021-2022)
Prospective Sponsor: Sen. Christopher Murphy (CT)

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Poll Opening Date
January 23, 2023
Poll Closing Date
January 29, 2023

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