Expand Brady Background Checks

We're committed to strengthening and expanding our namesake legislation — the landmark Brady Law and Brady Background Check system.

For 25 years, Brady Background Checks have prevented many guns from falling into dangerous hands. But the system must be modernized to cover sales at gun shows and on the internet.

Passing legislation to expand background checks to nearly every gun sale, including those conducted online, at gun shows, and through private transfers, is our number one priority — and a common-sense way to save lives.

What is a Brady Background Check?

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, or the Brady Law, was enacted 25 years ago. It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on November 30, 1993, and went into effect February 28, 1994.

Since the Brady Law took effect, it's blocked more than 3 million prohibited gun sales and processed over 278 million purchase requests. When someone goes to a federally licensed dealer to buy a gun, the retailer contacts the FBI to run a background check. The FBI checks the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to see if they are a convicted felon, fugitive, domestic abuser, or other prohibited purchaser. If the system reveals the buyer is legally barred from owning a gun, then the sale is denied.

Simply put, the Brady Law prevents guns from getting into dangerous hands.

Loopholes in the Brady Background Check System

The Brady Law has blocked more than 3 million gun sales to prohibited buyers — helping save countless lives. But the law doesn't apply to all gun sales. Instead, only Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) approved by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are required to conduct background checks on gun sales.

It's also important to note that the Brady Law was enacted before the rise of the internet. America has changed, and our nation’s gun laws need to change with it. Today, unlicensed gun sales made online are unregulated and unchecked. That contributes to the fact that 1 in 5 gun sales are conducted without a background check.

Solutions We Can Take Action on Now

It is long past time to expand lifesaving Brady Background Checks to EVERY gun sale. The public agrees: a 2018 study found that 97 percent of Americans support expanding background checks.

Right now, major legislation to strengthen and update Brady Background Checks is moving in Congress.

On February 27, 2019 — the day before the landmark Brady Bill turned 25 — the House of Representatives made history by passing H.R. 8 to expand Brady Background Checks. This bipartisan bill would expand Brady Background Checks to cover ALL gun sales. The bill would make it unlawful for anyone other than an FFL to transfer a firearm to an unlicensed person — unless they've conducted a background check according to the existing Brady Law.

Now the bill heads to the Senate as S. 42. It must be passed in its original, clean version.

Our lawmakers in the House also advanced a lifesaving bill to address the "Charleston Loophole" in background checks.

H.R. 1112, or the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019, addresses the dangerous loophole in backgrounds check that allows gun sales to be completed after three business days — even if a background check hasn't been completed. This loophole is what allowed a gun to fall into the killer's hands in the 2015 mass shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC.