‘We Are in Desperate Need of the Tools Only the Federal Government Can Provide’
It Has Been More than 25 Years Since Congress Passed Meaningful Federal Gun Safety legislation Into Law
WASHINGTON — Mayors Against Illegal Guns, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, has sent a letter from more than 120 Democratic and Republican mayors urging U.S. senators to pass background checks legislation, highlighting bipartisan support for background checks, calls for action from a wide range of local and law enforcement organizations and the ongoing pandemic that has intensified gun violence in cities across the country.
While federal law requires background checks for all gun sales made by licensed gun dealers, it does not require background checks for guns sold by unlicensed sellers, like non-dealers who sell guns online or at gun shows. This loophole enables people with felony convictions, domestic abuse restraining orders, and other people with prohibiting histories to buy guns with no questions asked. An Everytown investigation found that as many as 1 in 9 people arranging to buy a firearm on Armslist.com, the nation’s largest online gun marketplace, are people who would fail a background check.
Since 1994, background checks have stopped more than 3.5 million illegal gun sales to violent criminals and other people prohibited from having guns. Polling has showed 93 percent of American voters support requiring background checks on all gun sales, including 89 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of gun owners, and there’s a good reason why: background checks are constitutional, common-sense solutions that save lives.
“Every day in our cities and towns, we use all the tools at our disposal to keep guns out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves or others,” the letter, sent Thursday, reads in part. “But we are in desperate need of the tools only the federal government can provide. We must close the gaping loopholes in our federal laws that have allowed illegal guns to flood our communities for far too long.”
“Cities like Louisville are working around the clock to prevent shootings, but we can’t fully address the problem without stemming the flow of illegal guns into our neighborhoods,” said Louisville, Kentucky Mayor Greg Fischer. “The gaps in our gun laws have deadly results in cities across the country, and this must be the year that the Senate listens to the public and finally takes action.”
“As local leaders, we do everything we can to prevent gun violence in our communities, but only Congress can close the loopholes in our gun laws that result in shattered lives and grieving families,” said Boulder, Colorado Mayor Sam Weaver. “It’s past time for the Senate to be part of the solution to this public health crisis.”
“As a former police chief and now mayor, I know that the loopholes in our background check system make it far too easy for guns to fall into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,” said Tampa, Florida Mayor Jane Castor. “There is overwhelming public support for addressing this problem, and it’s past time for the Senate to stand up to the gun lobby and do what’s right for public safety.”
“Despite all of the work happening at the local level to prevent gun violence, years of federal inaction on background checks have made it all too easy for traffickers to keep illegal guns flowing into our communities,” said Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley. “The Senate has an opportunity to tackle this problem head-on, and with gun violence rising, the need for action has never been clearer.”
“Amid the ongoing, and in some areas increasing, levels of gun violence affecting cities every day, our citizens need sensible and responsible legislation more than thoughts and prayers from Washington,” said Columbia, South Carolina Mayor Steve Benjamin. “As a mayor and a gun owner, I stand with the vast majority of Americans calling for immediate action to make our public spaces safer and free from gun crimes.”
It has been more than 25 years since Congress passed meaningful federal gun safety legislation into law. More information about the background loophole is available here, and information about COVID-19 has exacerbated loopholes in the background checks system is here.