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April 21, 2009
2:50 PM

CONTACT: Brady Campaign

Peter Hamm,
Communications Director
Doug Pennington,
Assistant Director: 202-898-0792.

Report Shows Need For Brady Checks At Gun Shows And For All Gun Sales;

Gun Show Loophole Legislation Introduced In The U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON - April 21 - The day after the tenth anniversary of the Columbine High School tragedy, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg is poised to introduce a bill in the U.S. Senate to close the loophole that allows dangerous people to buy guns at gun shows in most U.S. states without passing a Brady background check.  A new report from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence was also released today, making a forceful case that Brady checks should be conducted for all gun sales in America, including at gun shows. 

"Ten years after two dangerous high school students exploited the gun show loophole to destroy the lives of countless fellow students in a horrific massacre, it is way past time to extend the successful Brady background check system in America to every gun sale in America," said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign.  "There is no rational reason why we should continue to allow a system where criminals and other dangerous people can buy guns without a background check, no questions asked.  I want to applaud Senator Frank Lautenberg for the bill he is introducing today in the United States Senate to close the gun show loophole.  This legislation will make it harder for dangerous people to get guns, and will be an important step towards requiring Brady background checks for all gun sales."

The Brady report, No Check, No Gun, was released at the press conference Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) held this morning.  It can be accessed online at

The report explains that though the Brady background check system has successfully blocked over 1.6 million prohibited purchasers from buying guns, the system has a major gap because it requires background checks only for gun sales by licensed dealers.  About 40 percent of gun sales are made by unlicensed sellers without a background check to see if the purchaser is a criminal or otherwise prohibited from buying guns.

"In effect," the report explains, "we have two gun markets: A regulated one, where buyers are checked to see if they can legally buy guns, and an unregulated one, where they are not."

The report explains how the no-check loophole has become a supply source for criminals who want guns and for traffickers who supply criminals.  Sales with no Brady check "have armed countless criminals, including the Columbine High School killers, the neo-Nazi spree killer of Ricky Byrdsong and others in Illinois and Indiana, the Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooter, killers of police officers, and the notorious Mexican drug cartels.  Terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah, have attempted to exploit the no check loophole to amass their arsenals," the Brady report says.

"This is where we should go as a nation - Brady background checks on every sale," Helmke said.  "It is a sensible and simple step that has been supported by progressives and conservatives alike.  The legislation on Capitol Hill would be a significant step in this direction.  President Obama has consistently supported closing the gun show loophole, as has Senator John McCain, Attorney General Eric Holder, and many other leaders.  Polls show 83 percent of Americans support requiring background checks for all gun sales.

"We can do this," Helmke said.  "It will have no impact on any law-abiding gun owner in the country.  There is absolutely no valid argument against doing this.  We owe it to the victims at Columbine to finally get it done."

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and its legislative and grassroots affiliate, the Brady Campaign and its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, is the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence.

We are devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.


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