Mayors Against Illegal Guns advocates for a common sense agenda that will make it harder for dangerous people to buy guns and easier for police and prosecutors to stop them. Our coalition of more than 1,000 mayors and more than 1.5 million supporters is calling on Congress to pass legislation that will:
- Require every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check
- Get military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines off our streets and
- Make gun trafficking a federal crime
Every day, 33 Americans are murdered with guns – that’s 20 times the gun murder rate of other developed countries. Common sense gun laws that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous people will save lives.
Now is the time for Congress to enact common sense public safety measures that reduce the toll of gun violence in America.
Require Criminal Background Checks for All Gun Sales
Background checks are the only systematic way to stop felons, domestic abusers and other dangerous people from buying firearms. But federal law only requires background checks for gun sales at licensed dealers. In the U.S., an estimated 40% of gun transfers take place without going through a licensed dealer, including online and at gun shows. That means that in 2012, 6.6 million guns were sold with no background check for the buyer.
Criminals and other prohibited gun buyers know how to exploit this loophole, and they do. A national survey of inmates found that nearly 80% of those who used a handgun in a crime acquired it in a private transfer.
The Internet has created a vast marketplace for guns where millions of buyers can easily find unlicensed sellers and buy guns in almost total anonymity. For example, in December 2012, more than 20,000 guns were for sale on Armslist.com, which allows buyers to choose between unlicensed and licensed sellers. More than 85% of the listings were placed by private sellers who are not required under federal law to conduct a background check on buyers.
Closing this “private sale loophole” will reduce the number of guns that end up in dangerous hands, which is why ten national police organizations support requiring the Fix Gun Checks Act, which would require background checks for all gun sales, with reasonable exceptions.
Even when background checks are performed, prohibited purchasers are not always denied because the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is missing hundreds of thousands of relevant records.
Background checks take a couple minutes to complete, and they save lives. Since the system was created, it has blocked more than 2 million criminals, domestic abusers, seriously mentally ill people and other dangerous people from buying guns at licensed dealers.
Congress should pass a strong background check bill (H.R. 137/S. 649), which would require a criminal background check for every gun sale and take steps to get all of the names of felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill into NICS.
Gun owners nationwide strongly support this common sense proposal: a 2012 survey by Douglas Schoen found that 88% of gun owners -- including 86% of NRA members -- support criminal background checks for all gun sales.
Ban Military-Style Assault Weapons and High-Capacity Magazines
Military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines have no place on our streets. They are designed to kill large numbers of people quickly, and they have no other use in civilian hands. Today, even people with criminal records, or with serious mental illness, can and do buy assault weapons from unlicensed private sellers who don’t conduct background checks.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns completed an analysis of the 93 incidents between January 2009 and September 2013 where at least 4 people were killed by guns. Of these mass shootings, at least 14 involved assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, and those incidents resulted in 151% more people shot and 63% more deaths than other mass shootings.
The time has come to review and improve the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. Congress should pass the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 (S. 150), which would create a clear and enforceable standard for taking these weapons out of our communities.Read More
Make Gun Trafficking a Federal Crime
Every year, tens of thousands of guns find their way into the hands of criminals through illegal trafficking channels. For example, 90% of the guns found at crime scenes in New York City were originally bought out of state and made their way illegally into the City.
But there is no clear and effective statute that makes gun trafficking a federal crime. Prosecutors who want to combat traffickers are forced to rely on a weak law that prohibits “engaging in the business of selling guns without a federal license,” which carries the same punishment as trafficking chicken or livestock.
This law simply isn’t strong enough to shut down trafficking networks and keep illegal guns off our streets. As a result, according to the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, U.S. Attorneys decline to prosecute 25 percent of those cases while declining only 9 percent of drug conspiracy cases.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns supports legislation in the Senate (S. 649) which would empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute straw purchasers, gun traffickers, and their entire criminal networks.Read More