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House to Vote on Bills Closing 'Charleston Loophole' in Gun Background Checks

Do you support or oppose these bills?

by Countable | Updated on 2.21.19

The House is expected to vote next week on two gun background check bills that aim to close the “Charleston loophole”, which allowed a gun to be sold to a prohibited buyer who then murdered 9 people in 2015 because the background check wasn’t completed in three days.

What would the bills do?

The Bipartisan Background Check Act (H.R. 8), offered by Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Pete King (R-NY), would prohibit a gun dealer from transferring a firearm to an unlicensed buyer until a background check has been completed. Under current law, a sale can be completed at the dealer’s discretion if a background check isn’t completed within three business days of its submission (known as a “default proceed” finding by the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) system).

The bill would include exceptions for gifts to family members and transfers for hunting, target shooting, and self-defense.

The Enhanced Background Check Act (H.R. 1112), sponsored by Reps. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and Pete King (R-NY), would extend the initial background check from from three to 10 business days. If the initial review isn’t completed after 10 business days, the dealer would be required to request an escalated review by the FBI that would run for another 10 business days. If the escalated background check hasn’t concluded within 10 business days, the sale could proceed if the dealer certifies they have no reason to believe the buyer is barred from obtaining a firearm.

What are both sides saying?

Supporters of these bills argue that background checks need to be completed before a gun is sold and that delaying a sale gives law enforcement more time to complete them so prohibited purchasers can't get access to a gun.

Opponents of these bills have pointed out that under current law even if the unlicensed buyer takes possession of the gun after three days, the Federal Bureau of Investigation continues to resolve the background check for up to 90 days. If it turns out that the purchase should’ve been prohibited by the background check and the gun was transferred, the ATF is notified and steps are taken to confiscate the weapon and potentially prosecute the buyer.

What’s the scope of the problem?

According to data from USAFacts, a non-partisan civic data initiative, there were more than 277 million background checks carried out on would-be gun purchasers in the U.S. between 1999 and 2017 (with more 1.3 million denials according to the FBI). Since 2009, background checks have exceeded 14 million each year and averaged 20.3 million per year over the 1999-2017 period, per USAFacts.

FBI data provided to ThinkProgress showed that there were 270,000 default proceed sales in 2015; 300,000 in 2016; and 310,000 in 2017.

Statistics on the use of guns obtained through default proceed sales in crimes aren't readily available. This chart from USAFacts shows that overall firearm deaths have trended up in recent years because of an increase in suicides, while the rate of homicides using firearms has remained flat relative to historic levels.

What are the bills’ prospects?

Democrats should have no problem passing these bills through the House, given that a majority of representatives have signed on as cosponsors of H.R. 8, and that it and H.R. 1112 both passed the Judiciary Committee on mostly party-line votes of 23-15 and 21-14, respectively.

It’s unclear whether the bills would be brought up in the Senate for consideration if they clear the House, or whether President Donald Trump would sign them into law.

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: iStock.com / Alex Potemkin)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(253)
  • Alan
    Voted Support
    02/21/2019
    ···

    Please support stronger gun controls by requiring universal registration and oversight of selling guns.

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  • Bob
    Voted Oppose
    02/21/2019
    ···

    "Shall not be infringed" does not mean "subject to government approval." If you have to get approval from the government in order to exercise your right to self defense, it defeats the entire purpose of the second amendment.

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  • Rebecca
    02/21/2019
    ···

    Close the loophole!

    Like (21)
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  • Choky
    Voted Support
    02/21/2019
    ···

    The massacre of innocents people in guns violence have to stop. It’s makes no sense that a person with a criminal record can have such an easy access to buy a gun . People with mental problems can buy an assault rifle with no difficulty. Sandy Hook, Aurora theatre, Orlando night club, Parkland school are places where innocents people where massacre. When are you going to do something about it?How many more innocents people have to died? I urge you to support this bill.

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  • Matt
    Voted Oppose
    02/21/2019
    ···

    So lets say it's changed to only sell after the background check is completed. That would mean the gov could instantly block all gun sales just by stopping running background checks. Why not instead figure out what held up a background check, and provide the resources to ensure theyre completed quickly? Mine have typically taken no more than 10-20 minutes. Heck, I've had to wait in line longer than I have for the background check. Lets push for government efficiency instead of supporting inefficiency.

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  • Judith
    02/22/2019
    ···

    THIS SEEMS TO BE ANOTHER ATTEMPT AT GUN CONTROL. WE ALREADY HAVE LAWS IN PLACE THEY NEED TO BE ENFORCED. THE PROBLEM IS NOT THE GUN WHICH IS AN OBJECT THE PROBLEM IS WITH THE PERSON USING THE GUN. WE NEED TO HAVE MORE MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAMS AVAILABLE TO PEOPLE BEFORE THEY GET TO THIS POINT.

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  • Jeff
    Voted Support
    02/21/2019
    ···

    The problem of gun violence in this country is one that will require a multitude of solutions, and this is one very important step in the right direction. Please support this bill.

    Like (17)
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  • K.d.
    Voted Support
    02/21/2019
    ···

    The number of gun deaths in this country is the real national emergency.

    Like (15)
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  • Syn
    Voted Oppose
    02/21/2019
    ···

    I do not and will not support any and all unconstitutional limitations of my rights. I will vote against any representatives regardless of party affiliation who supports this legislation.

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  • Stewart
    Voted Support
    02/21/2019
    ···

    I don’t think there should be an exception for families members, hunting, self defense etc. You can’t drive a car around without a license and say you’re family member has the title for it. Why should there be a background check or licensing exception for guns from family members?

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  • Joe
    Voted Support
    02/21/2019
    ···

    Don't let the gun manufacturers' lobbying arm (the NRA) take away yet another opportunity to impose a tiny amount of sanity into our out-of-control gun problem. This is a fraction of what we need, but it's a tiny step in the right direction.

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  • Larry
    Voted Oppose
    02/21/2019
    ···

    This is not a loophole. This was done intentionally. The reason it was done is because authorities have demonstrated in some cases that if there was no way around getting their approval, they could just delay the background check approval indefinitely. So it is actually closing a loophole in the law that could permit the government to just delay forever thus denying our right to purchase.

    Like (11)
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  • J
    Voted Support
    02/21/2019
    ···

    Please close the loophole. Thanks

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  • Cynthia
    Voted Oppose
    02/21/2019
    ···

    It is not the gun or weapon of choice that is responsible for the heinous acts of violence or murder. It's the act of the person or persons behind the weapon. All you are doing in becoming vunerable to ensure a possible violent act against youself because you can't protect yourself. 2A is the right to bear arms and I stand firmly behind that. Heaven help the idiot who tries harm me or anyone in my presence because their derangement will be their demise. It is my right not a privilege. Government needs to stay out of it.

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  • Stewart
    Voted Support
    02/21/2019
    ···

    Bob stop manipulating what the second amendment says, you guys love to quote three fucking words from that amendment but conveniently leave out “in order to maintain a WELL REGULATED militia.” If you’re so confident in you’re arguments quote the whole damn amendment.

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  • James
    Voted Oppose
    02/21/2019
    ···

    If someone wants to get a gun to commit crimes, they will always find a way to do this. Laws are not obeyed by criminals.

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  • James
    Voted Support
    02/21/2019
    ···

    I’m good with any check and a reasonable amount for the applicant to pay to get a gun and a CCW. No state should restrict a healthy minded individual who passes these checks to obtain and carry. Dig as deep as you want, investigate all you want - but protect my right.

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  • Nbyptelaine
    Voted Support
    02/21/2019
    ···

    I support any additional background checks and licenses. I don’t think this nearly enough, but it’s a start

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  • Colleen
    Voted Oppose
    02/21/2019
    ···

    Stop trying to find reasons to take the guns away. Did any of you that support this actually read it? Gun deaths by homicide has barely changed. Death by suicide gas gone up. This is not a gun issue. It is a mental health issue. Let’s start treating the depressed. They need the help, the gun owners have no problem. And stop blaming the nra. Not one homicide was ever committed by an nra member

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  • JTJ
    Voted Oppose
    02/21/2019
    ···

    Pass regulation that will actually save lives. Outlaw gun free zones.

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  • Beth
    Voted Support
    02/21/2019
    ···

    These bills will help to keep guns from getting into the wrong hands.

    Like (7)
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