Today, the U.S. Conference of Mayors announced that 152 mayors — including Democrats, Republicans and Independents — have sent a letter to U.S. Senators, urging them to immediately consider bipartisan background checks legislation.
“As mayors, it is our top priority to ensure public safety; protecting our residents from gun violence is at the very heart of this commitment,” the mayors write. “It is time for our federal partners in Congress to take long overdue action to reduce gun violence and the terrible toll it takes on our cities and in our nation.”
The letter comes the week after Mayors Against Illegal Guns, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, 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 MAIG letter, sent Thursday, read 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.”
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.