About

Expand Brady Background Checks


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

For more than 25 years, Brady Background Checks have prevented many guns from falling into dangerous hands. But the system has gaps and must be strengthened and expanded.

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 Bill, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on November 30, 1993, and went into effect February 28, 1994.

Since the Brady Bill 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 Bill prevents guns from getting into the hands of people who may intend to cause harm to others.

Loopholes in the Brady Background Check System

The Brady Bill has blocked more than 3.5 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, according to the current Brady Bill.

It's also important to note that the Brady Bill 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.

Learn more about loopholes in the current background check system.

Expanding Brady Background Checks is a Solution 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, H.R. 8 is Moving Through Congress to Strengthen and Expand Brady Background Checks

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. H.R. 8 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 Bill.

Now H.R. 8 heads to the Senate as S. 42. It must be passed in its original, clean version in order to properly and effectively expand Brady Background Checks.

Our lawmakers in the House also advanced H.R. 1112, a Lifesaving Bill to Address the "Charleston Loophole" in Brady Background Checks.

H.R. 1112, or the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019, addresses the dangerous loophole in background checks 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.