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Spanberger Votes to Pass Bipartisan Legislation to Require Background Checks on All Firearm Purchases

The Congresswoman Also Voted to Pass Legislation that Would Close the “Charleston Loophole”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger — a Member of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force — today voted to pass bipartisan gun safety legislation that would close existing background check loopholes and make sure individuals already prohibited from gun possession under federal law are unable to purchase firearms.

Under federal law, licensed gun dealers are required to conduct background checks on gun purchasers and transferees. However, individuals purchasing firearms are not currently required to complete a background check if purchasing a gun from an unlicensed seller — including online, person-to-person, or at a gun show. The Bipartisan Background Checks Act, passed with a bipartisan majority of support today in the U.S. House, would close this loophole by requiring background checks on all gun sales or transfers, with a few exceptions. Spanberger first voted to pass this legislation in the U.S. House in February 2019.

Spanberger also voted today to pass legislation to close the “Charleston Loophole,” which is the loophole that allowed Dylann Roof — a man prohibited by law from buying firearms — to purchase a gun before killing nine congregants at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. The legislation extends the background check length to 10 days, so that federal law enforcement have the time they need to complete necessary background checks that help keep our communities safe.

“American schools, workplaces, shopping centers, and places of worship should be free from the threat of deadly gun violence. However, we’ve seen an uptick in deadly mass shootings across the country in recent years. As a former federal law enforcement agent who carried a firearm every day, I know the responsibility and training that comes with owning a firearm — and as a parent, legislator, and community member, I know that commonsense gun safety legislation is long overdue,” said Spanberger. “The Bipartisan Background Checks Act does not change the qualifications for a firearm purchase, but it requires that our current background check standard apply to all purchases. By closing this loophole, we are taking a responsible step to make sure those already prohibited from possessing a firearm — like terrorists and criminals — cannot circumvent our current system by attending a gun show or shopping online. I was also glad to see the House pass legislation to close the Charleston loophole, because murderers like Dylann Roof should not be allowed to carry a weapon of deadly force, simply because a background check took a few extra days to process. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for preventing all gun violence from taking place, but these bills are critical first steps in making our communities safer and providing law enforcement with the tools they need.”

Currently, only federally-licensed points of sale are required to conduct a background check before selling a firearm. The Spanberger-backed Bipartisan Background Checks Act would apply this same standard to all would-be gun sellers. The legislation includes reasonable exceptions that would allow a person to give a gun as a gift to a family member, provide a gun in cases of immediate self-defense, and loan a firearm for hunting purposes.

Spanberger is a member of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, which was established in Congress after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.