Washington, D.C., February 13, 2019 - More than three years after nine people were shot and killed, and another three injured at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC, the House Judiciary Committee passed legislation out of markup today that would address the loophole that allows far too many dangerous individuals access to guns when no background check has been completed. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence applauded the committee vote on H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019, and urged Congress to pass the bill into law as soon as possible.
Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign, stated:
“While the Brady Background Check system has blocked more than three million illegal gun purchases over the past 25 years, there is more that we can do to fortify this system and save lives. One of those fortifications needed is extending time to complete background checks where FBI review shows that the buyer should be prohibited from purchasing a gun because of domestic violence convictions or other disqualifying factors. Current law allows sales to proceed after three days, even when a background check has not been completed and thousands of guns fall into dangerous hands each year as a result of this loophole, including the hate-filled individual who killed nine worshipers at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC more than three years ago. Leader Clyburn’s bill addresses this gap in the law, and is an important step that will help fix the ‘Charleston Loophole,’ so that prohibited purchasers aren’t able to walk out of a store with a new gun just because a background check took more than a few days to complete. We must come together to take action, and we look forward to the full House and Senate taking this legislation up as soon as possible.”
House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) stated:
“The Charleston community did not ask for their town’s name to become shorthand for one of the most grievous loopholes in the federal background check system, but we have an opportunity now to put that to rest. H.R. 1112 would prevent guns from falling into dangerous hands simply because it may have taken a little too long for a background check to be returned. We must pass this bill into law at once - the victims of gun violence deserve that much.”
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) noted:
“Very simply, law enforcement needs the tools and the time to ensure that those individuals who should not have guns do not get guns. I am proud to work with Congressman Clyburn to prevent another tragedy from happening.”
Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC) added:
“We owe it to the victims of the Emanuel A.M.E. Church shooting to pass H.R. 1112 into law as quickly as possible. It isn’t a complicated issue - if you are prohibited from owning a gun, you shouldn’t be able to purchase one just because a background check took a few extra days to be completed. Gun violence has put innocent lives at risk for far too long, and it’s past time for us to take action at last.”
H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019, would take important steps to narrow the “Charleston Loophole” in the background checks system, otherwise known as the “default proceed” component of current federal gun laws. Currently, under federal law, a licensed firearms dealer can legally transfer a gun to a purchaser after three business days - even if the background check has not been completed. This loophole led to the shooter who murdered nine people and injured three others at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC obtaining his gun.
H.R. 1112 would extend the initial background check review period from three to ten days. After the initial ten business day waiting period, a purchaser may request an expedited FBI review, granting an additional ten business days to complete the review before a sale could proceed. This update to the background check system would give more time for the FBI to adequately complete checks, and allow gun buyers a process to request an expedited review. The bipartisan bill is cosponsored by Reps. James Clyburn (D-SC), Peter King (R-NY), and Joe Cunningham (D-SC).
Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.