Wyden, Merkley Reintroduce Bill to Reduce Gun Violence

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley are joining with 43 senators in reintroducing legislation that would expand federal background checks to all gun sales.

Our country needs airtight background checks without any loopholes,” Wyden said. “‘Thoughts and prayers’ won’t stop unlicensed sellers from selling firearms online or at gun shows to people whose actions demonstrate they should not own a gun. Congress must take common-sense action to reduce the chances for these tragedies to strike.”

“About 90% of Americans support background checks for gun purchases—and it’s time that Congress honor their wish and close critical loopholes that make all of our communities less safe,” said Merkley. “Let’s make 2021 the year that we put commonsense above the wish lists of gun manufacturers and pass this legislation.”

Under current federal law, unlicensed or private sellers are not required to conduct a background check prior to transferring a firearm. 97% of Americans support comprehensive background checks, but as many as a quarter of all gun sales in the United States may occur without a background check. 

The Background Checks Expansion Act will require background checks for the sale or transfer of all firearms. This requirement extends to all unlicensed sellers, whether they do business online, at gun shows, or out of their home. Exceptions to the Background Check Expansion Act include transfers between law enforcement officers, temporarily loaning firearms for hunting and sporting events, providing firearms as gifts to immediate family members, transferring a firearm as part of an inheritance, or temporarily transferring a firearm for immediate self-defense. 

In addition to Wyden and Merkley, the Background Check Expansion Act is co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., as well as Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Richard Durbin D-Ill., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Edward Markey, D-Mass., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Chris Coons, D-Del., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Mark Warner, D-Va., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Tom Carper, D-Del., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Gary Peters, D-Mich., Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and Jack Reed, D-R.I.

U.S. Representative Mike Thompson, D-Calif., has introduced the companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Full text of the bill can be found here.