There's a new plan to boost background checks for guns bought at shows or online (2024)

NPR's Michel Martin speaks with Stefanie Feldman, director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, about a new rule intended to reduce gun crime.


The White House is announcing a new rule today to tighten background checks on gun purchases. The measure is scheduled to go into effect in 30 days. Anyone who sells guns will then have to run federal background checks, regardless of where the transaction takes place - stores, flea markets, gun shows and social media. This would reduce what is known as the, quote-unquote, "gun show loophole." Joining us now to tell us more about this is Stefanie Feldman. She is the director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention. Good morning, Ms. Feldman.


MARTIN: Can you put some numbers on this? How many dealers and how many purchases do you think will be affected by this new rule?

FELDMAN: Yes. So there are going to be tens of thousands of firearm sales a year that are now going to have to undergo background checks. Right now there are about 80,000 federally licensed firearms dealers. And the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms estimates that about 20,000 additional sellers of firearms are going to have to become licensed dealers under this new rule and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which it implements. So it's a big change.

MARTIN: So if this is going to be as effective as you think it will be, why now, right before an election? I mean, gun sales have been surging for years. The guns show - the so-called gun show loophole has been in effect for years. Why didn't the administration do this sooner?

FELDMAN: This is really an accomplishment that is 25 years in the making. In 1999, after the Columbine High School shooting, people tried and failed to pass universal background checks. In 2013, Vice President Biden stood in the Rose Garden with then-President Obama after universal background checks failed. President Biden succeeded in 2022 in passing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which included a legislative fix that created the space for this rulemaking by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. And that process has now concluded. And thanks to President Biden's leadership, we're now able to implement this law and make sure that we're having fewer guns sold without background checks.

MARTIN: So you're confident that this measure will withstand legal challenges?

FELDMAN: We are confident that this measure complies with the law. The Department of Justice scoped it to make sure that it follows the statute and it doesn't violate the Second Amendment. We expect legal challenges, as we've had to all of President Biden's actions to reduce gun violence. But again and again, courts have recognized that common-sense gun laws hold up.

MARTIN: And could this be unwound by the next administration, should there be a change in the White House after the election?

FELDMAN: We believe that any future administration could unwind rulemaking processes, and not just this rule but any other rules. But we believe that the American people are clear that this is the action they need to take - unusual for the past for firearm safety rules, three-quarters of the public that commented on this rule supported it. So this is following the desires of the American people. The vast majority of people support expanding background checks. So, yes, the next administration could choose to undo this rule, but the American people are clear - they want it to stand.

MARTIN: And can the background check system handle this? I mean, there have been reports over the years that, you know, as we said earlier, gun purchases have surged in recent years. And can the system handle this? I mean, there have been reports about, you know, people working, you know, hours and hours of overtime just to keep up or people quitting because of burnout, and also the fact that if they - there are hard deadlines - that if a background check can't be completed within a certain time frame, then gun dealers are free to sort of proceed with these - with distributing these weapons. So can the system handle this?

FELDMAN: Yes, it can. The hardworking people of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who run the federal background check system, absolutely work long hours, and we're so grateful for the tireless effort they put in. The background check system is extremely effective. The vast majority of background checks take 90 seconds or less when someone's in the store. There are cases that are - that take a longer amount of time, because there is - additional investigation is needed, but the background check system is ready. We do need Congress to provide additional funding so we can better enforce the law, but the FBI is ready to go to implement this.

MARTIN: That is Stefanie Feldman, director of the White House Office of Gun Control Prevention - Gun Violence Prevention. Stefanie Feldman, thank you so much for joining us.

FELDMAN: Thank you.

MARTIN: And here's where I want to mention that gun violence is the No. 1 killer of children and teens in this country - that, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Prevention is a top issue for many young voters, so next week, NPR News is launching a series about the issues that matter to you, the voters, in this election year. First up is kids, guns and America. So starting Monday, join us for We the Voters - The Left, the Right and the Disillusioned.

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There's a new plan to boost background checks for guns bought at shows or online (2024)


There's a new plan to boost background checks for guns bought at shows or online? ›

The White House is announcing a new rule today to tighten background checks on gun purchases. The measure is scheduled to go into effect in 30 days. Anyone who sells guns will then have to run federal background checks, regardless of where the transaction takes place - stores, flea markets, gun shows and social media.

Does the FBI do background checks on gun purchases? ›

When someone tries to buy a firearm, the seller—known as a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL)—contacts the FBI. The prospective buyer fills out the required form, and the FFL sends that information to the FBI. We perform a background check on the buyer to verify eligibility.

What is the background of gun control? ›

Following the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Congress passed the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA). The GCA, as amended over the years, continues to be the primary vehicle for the federal regulation of firearms.

Why should we have gun control? ›

Our human rights are not protected if our leaders fail to tackle and end the epidemic of gun violence and gun deaths. Gun violence threatens our rights to health, education and life. The epidemic of gun violence can only be stopped by effective gun regulation and violence prevention programmes.

What was the purpose of the waiting period under the Brady Act? ›

Waiting period laws give law enforcement additional time to perform an accurate background check and create a “cooling off” period to prevent acts of violence or suicide attempts.

Do all gun purchases in the US require a background check? ›

Federal Context. Federal law, which applies in all states, requires criminal background checks for all firearm sales and transfers by licensed dealers, but does not require background checks or any process for sales or transfers by unlicensed sellers.

Does the government know what guns I own? ›

It's a commonly held belief that the government has a national firearms registry and knows what guns each person owns. This is mostly untrue. There are exceptions to this rule depending on certain localities, but by and large, there's no central database of guns and who owns them.

What's the percentage of gun owners in America? ›

What Percentage of Americans Own Guns? 40%, or approximately more than 82,000,000 Americans own guns. As a matter of fact, 28% more people report having firearms in 2023 than twenty years ago. Gun ownership has been on the rise in recent years.

What guns are illegal in the US? ›

NFA weapons are weapons that are heavily restricted at a federal level by the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986. These include automatic firearms (such as machine guns), short-barreled shotguns, and short-barreled rifles.

Why are guns so easy to get in America? ›

In the USA, the right to keep and bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment of the country's constitution. The current gun laws in the country allow for: The purchase of assault rifles and shotguns from the age of 18.

What state has the loosest gun laws? ›

Mississippi. Mississippi has the weakest gun laws in the country and the highest gun death rate.

Which state has the toughest gun laws? ›

Leading states for gun law strength in the U.S. 2024

California led the way in gun safety in the United States as of January 2024, with a composite score of 89.5 based on the presence of 50 key gun safety policies. New York followed, with a score of 83.5, while Illinois rounded out the top three with a score of 83.

How many guns does the average American own? ›

Pew research reports that of gun owners they average about five firearms per person. They indicate that 29% have only one firearm, and that the remaining percent have more than one firearm.

How long does the FBI have to deny a gun purchase? ›

Under the Brady Law, if there's something in your record that needs further investigation, then the FBI has three business days (not including the day they run your initial background check) to get back to you. If the FBI doesn't either approve or deny you after three business days, then you can go ahead and buy a gun.

Was the Brady Act overturned? ›

In its 1997 decision in the case, the Supreme Court ruled that the provision of the Brady Act that compelled state and local law enforcement officials to perform the background checks was unconstitutional on 10th amendment grounds.

What is the Brady Act law? ›

On November 30, 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was enacted, amending the Gun Control Act of 1968. The Brady Law imposed as an interim measure a waiting period of 5 days before a licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer may sell, deliver, or transfer a handgun to an unlicensed individual.

What background check does FBI use? ›

FBI background checks are a type of search conducted by authorized agencies and industries to access information from the FBI's National Crime Information Center NCIC) database, which includes a history of arrests and convictions, as well as any contact with law enforcement.

What disqualifies you from owning a gun in the US? ›

Has been convicted of any one of a number of enumerated crimes (including both felonies and misdemeanors) involving violence, hate crime offenses, child or elder abuse, the unlawful misuse of firearms, or violation of California laws regarding safe storage of firearms around minors and people who cannot legally access ...

Why do I always get delayed when I purchase a firearm? ›

Every single time you buy a weapon the very same background check is run, and run in it's entirety. They don't check to see if you've passed it before then just forgo the check. It is in no way uncommon for a check to take more time than normal.

What's the longest a gun background check takes? ›

Most background checks are resolved instantly, but investigations can currently last up to 90 days. There is no evidence that waiting periods reduce suicides, homicides, or mass shootings.


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