Bill would strengthen Brady Background Checks, significantly narrow ‘Charleston Loophole’
Washington, D.C., February 28, 2019 - One day after passing legislation to expand Brady Background Checks to all private sales, the House of Representatives today passed H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019, significantly narrowing the “Charleston loophole.” The bill will extend the time granted to law enforcement to complete a background check from three to ten business days, a crucial step towards keeping guns out of dangerous hands. Brady, which heavily advocated for the bill’s passage, hailed the vote as a significant measure that will keep Americans safe.
Brady president Kris Brown stated,
“Nearly four years ago, nine innocent people were shot and murdered by a man who was only able to obtain his gun through a dangerous loophole in our laws. Today, exactly 25 years after the Brady Bill went into effect, the House of Representatives took a much-needed step towards preventing that type of tragedy from ever happening again. No one should be able to buy a gun just because a background check took a little too long to be completed. We need to provide our law enforcement agents with the time and resources they need to properly insure that guns are not falling into dangerous hands. We will continue to pursue every avenue to strengthen the Brady Background Check system, and we look forward to pushing this bipartisan bill through the Senate and into law.”
Currently, federal law allows dealers to transfer a gun to a customer if the federal background check is not completed within three business days, a process known as a “default proceed.” While the vast majority of background checks result in an almost instant verdict, and 96 percent of background checks are processed within those three business days, hundreds of thousands of guns are sold every year because of the default status. Over 35,000 guns were transferred to prohibited purchasers between 2008 and 2017 alone because of the three-day rule, and default proceeds sales are eight times more likely to involve a prohibited purchaser than those with a completed background check. Those are exactly the people that background checks are meant to stop from obtaining a firearm.
It was through this very loophole that the shooter who killed nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church in Charleston, SC was able to obtain his gun, despite being prohibited from possession of a firearm. It has since been known as the “Charleston loophole.”
The Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019, which was co-sponsored by House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), Rep. Peter King (R-NY), and Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), extends the initial review period from three to 10 business days before the sale can be completed. After the initial 10 business day period, if a background check has not been completed, a purchaser may request an expedited review, giving the FBI 10 additional business days to complete the check. Those who choose not to submit a certified petition will be required to wait until the background check is completed before the sale can proceed.
More information on H.R. 1112 can be found here.
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.