Rep. Smith Applauds Passage of Gun Violence Bills to Strengthen Background Checks and Close Charleston Loophole
March 11, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement after the House passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, and H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, gun violence has only grown worse, ending an average of 100 American lives each day. Even with many Americans staying home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, gun purchases spiked in March 2020 and firearm fatalities rose in the following months. Today, Congress has begun to address the epidemic of gun violence with two pieces of strong, bipartisan legislation.
"It’s is overwhelmingly clear that background checks work. Every day, background checks stop approximately 170 felons, 50 domestic abusers, and 20 fugitives from obtaining a gun. However, major loopholes exist in the system that allow unlicensed dealers and vendors at gun shows to sell guns without running any background check at all. Ninety percent of Americans, including responsible gun owners, recognize the value in keeping firearms away from people who can’t pass a background check. H.R. 8 closes the background check loophole to bring all states forward in requiring background checks on every gun purchase.
“I’m also proud to have finally closed a major loophole in gun laws that armed the shooter in the tragic massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, that killed nine innocent people. Commonly referred to as the ‘Charleston Loophole,’ federal law allows licensed gun dealers to hand over guns to individuals who may not qualify if their background check has not been completed by the FBI within three days. Despite being prohibited by law from possessing a firearm due to his history of unlawful controlled substance abuse, the shooter obtained a gun due to this technicality. H.R. 1446 provides the FBI with the crucial time needed to complete a background check on a potential firearms purchaser before a licensed dealer can transfer a gun.
“With the passage of the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and the Enhanced Background Checks Act in the House, Congress has taken a foundational step toward saving lives from gun violence and keeping our communities safe.”