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Warner, Kaine & Colleagues Reintroduce Background Check Expansion Act to Reduce Gun Violence

WASHINGTON, D.C. —U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined Senator Chris Murphy and their colleagues in reintroducing the Background Check Expansion Act to expand federal background checks to all gun sales. Under current federal law, unlicensed or private sellers are not required to conduct a background check prior to transferring a firearm. Research indicates that nearly a quarter of all gun sales in the United States may occur without a background check. U.S. Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA) introduced the companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

“Virginia Tech, Charleston, and too many other tragedies have taught us the heartbreaking consequences that glitches in the background check system can have. Congress has the power to make reforms and yet, there’s been no significant action on the federal level,” said the Senators. “We’re proud of Virginia for adopting measures last year to strengthen our background check system and help prevent future tragedies. It’s time for Congress to follow the Commonwealth’s lead, and close these harmful loopholes.”

The Background Check Expansion Act will require background checks for the sale or transfer of all firearms. This requirement extends to all unlicensed sellers, whether they do business online, at gun shows, or out of their home. Exceptions to the Background Check Expansion Act include transfers between law enforcement officers, temporarily loaning firearms for hunting and sporting events, providing firearms as gifts to immediate family members, transferring a firearm as part of an inheritance, or temporarily transferring a firearm for immediate self-defense.  

Warner and Kaine have long-supported a sensible, comprehensive approach to curbing gun violence, including the expansion of mental health services, background record checks prior to gun purchases, and responsible limits on combat-style weapons and high-capacity magazines. Last year, the Senators introduced the Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence Act of 2020, to federally enact a series of commonsense gun violence prevention measures adopted by Virginia last year. Kaine also introduced legislation to close a current loophole that allows gun sales to proceed if a background check is not completed after 72 hours.  

The bill is also cosponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Edward Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Tom Carper (D-DE), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Patty Murray (D-WA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Jack Reed (D-RI).

Full text of the bill can be found here.