Schneider Introduces Bill to Address Deadly “Charleston Loophole” in National Firearm Background Check System
Today, Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10) announced the introduction of new legislation to address the dangerous loophole that allows some gun sales to be completed without the results of a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background check.
Under current law, federal firearm licensees (FFLs) may automatically go forward (“default proceed”) with the sale of a firearm if an FBI background check is not completed after three business days. Equally troubling, the FBI has no way of knowing if the sale was made unless they eventually complete the background check and then contact the dealer.
“It is stunning that hundreds of thousands of guns are sold annually before the results of a federal background check are returned. Americans should be justifiably outraged our laws allow this absurd loophole, and I fully support Congressman Clyburn’s legislation to permanently close it,” said Schneider. “But while the gun lobby may have stalled that important effort right now, there are commonsense, incremental steps we can take today to ensure the default proceed sale process is safer and more transparent. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this limited but impactful legislation. We in Congress have the ability to save lives if we find the courage to act.”
“Default proceed” sales have a deadly history. Despite a previous arrest, Dylann Roof was sold the handgun he used to kill nine churchgoers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston under such a sale because the FBI could not acquire his relevant court records within three business days.
H.R.7027, the Default Proceed Sale Transparency Act, would change the “default proceed” process to make it more transparent and ensure we do everything possible to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals. The bill would:
- require FFLs to first report to the FBI when they sell a firearm to someone whose background check was not completed;
- direct the FBI to prioritize completion of background checks for these default proceed sales;
- prohibit the destruction of open NICS records which currently must be destroyed if a background check is not completed in 89 days; and
- require the FBI to publicly report, on an annual basis, the number of default proceed sales that took place, including how many times an individual who should not have been able to purchase a firearm was able to do so and the number of firearms that were eventually retrieved from said individuals.
In 2016, there were more than 300,000 “default proceed sales“ before the results of an FBI background check.
The National Rifle Association has called the “default proceed” sale loophole a “critical safety valve.”
Schneider is a co-sponsor of H.R. 3464, the Background Check Completion Act introduced by Rep. James E. Clyburn (SC-06), which would prevent FFLs from transferring a firearm to any unlicensed person prior to completion of a background check.