Social Policy & Politics Program | Memo

Would Universal Background Checks Make a Difference?

by Jim Kessler, Lanae Erickson Hatalsky and Sarah Trumble

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Why a universal background check law for gun sales is essential:

  • It would play a critical role to stop illegal gun trafficking—in 9 of 10 gun crimes, the gun was not used by the original purchaser.
  • Felons and gun runners exploit the unregulated private market—the denial rate has plummeted to 1.53% despite the fact that the background check system is far better today than 15 years ago.

Why it’s not burdensome for gun owners:

  • 92% of background checks are completed within minutes.
  • Sales to family members would be exempt.
  • 16 million already submitted to background checks last year and 172 million have since the Brady law took effect.

If it’s good enough for nearly 200 million people, why isn’t it good enough for everyone else?

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