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However, this requirement does not apply to anyone who is not a licensed gun dealer, meaning that private individuals are free under federal law to sell guns without first conducting a background check or taking any steps to verify that the prospective buyer is legally eligible to buy or possess a gun. To date, 20 states have acted to partially or fully close this gap in the law and require background checks for at least some sales by private sellers. The lack of universal background checks undermines the effectiveness of nearly every other gun safety law.

The private sale loophole allows individuals who are prohibited from buying guns to easily evade that law and buy as many guns as they want online, at a gun show, or anywhere else, with no questions asked and no records kept of the sale. This gap in the law also enables gun trafficking, as it allows secondary market sales to take place outside the notice of law enforcement and regulatory authorities.

A similar measure in South Carolina has idled in committee. PGP Public Key.

Background Check Procedures | Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

Donate and double your impact. Now through December 31, NewsMatch will double your tax-deductible gift. The FBI is currently under no obligation to notify the local law enforcement agencies best suited to quickly investigate prohibited firearm purchases. The answer prompted a change they now oppose.

The legislative push comes in response to the Aurora mass shooting that exposed a loophole which could be arming scores of high-risk people. This story was reported in partnership with The Post and Courier.

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This is the move that might have kept the Charleston, S.C., church shooter from getting his gun.

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FBI Interview about NICS at NRA Convention 2010

Related Articles in Background Checks. Background Checks. Please become a member today to ensure our journalists can keep digging. States and federal agencies would be called out publicly if they failed to meet the goals they had set.

They would also be given technical support as they work to build better reporting systems. Priority would be given to states that show they have a detailed plan for implementing better practices for record reporting. Experts agree that the Fix NICS Act would add welcome resources and accountability to a complex and cloudy gun background check system.

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The bill instead encourages compliance with direct financial incentives, as well as access to other federal assistance programs. Preventing more people with criminal records from buying guns will almost certainly be a benefit to public safety.


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Whether or not the specific changes being proposed will prevent future mass shootings is murkier. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the gunman was not prohibited from gun ownership and purchased the gun legally. An airtight background check system would have prevented the shooters Sutherland Springs and Charleston from obtaining the weapons they used in the attacks. But prohibited buyers can still often find ways around the system by buying guns in private sales or on the black market.

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With widening calls for the president and Congress to act to stop mass shootings, the Fix NICS legislation, which was backed by the NRA, seems to have the best chance of any existing bill of being signed into law. Donate and double your impact. Now through December 31, NewsMatch will double your tax-deductible gift.