Save Lives through Background Checks on All Gun Sales

Gun violence is a leading cause of early death in America, killing more than 38,000 people annually and injuring nearly 85,000 people. Background checks for all gun sales are a common-sense way to keep guns out of the wrong hands and have shown to reduce gun homicides by 15% overall, and as much as 40% in some states. While under federal law, some gun dealers are required to conduct a background check before completing gun sales, others—like people who sell guns online or at gun shows—can sell guns without running a background check, a loophole with deadly outcomes. This policy ensures that background checks are required for all gun sales to save lives and keep our communities safe.

Frequently Asked Questions
Who does this help?
This policy benefits everyone by closing loopholes that allow the acquisition of firearms for criminal purposes, reducing gun violence, and saving lives. For example, after Connecticut adopted universal background checks in their licensing law, there was a 40% drop in gun homicides and a 15% drop in gun suicides.
Is this high cost for the state?
No. In fact, gun violence costs taxpayers approximately $12.7 billion annually, with high cost disparities between states with and without background checks. For example, without background checks, gun violence costs Missouri taxpayers an average of $1,606 per person whereas with background checks, gun violence only costs Washington taxpayers an average of $716 per person.
Do Americans support background checks on gun sales?
Yes. Studies show that 84% of voters, including 83% of gun owners, support requiring all gun purchasers to go through a background check.
  • Parents
  • Students and their families
  • Educators
  • Gun violence prevention advocates
  • Public health advocates
  • Special interests opposed to gun violence prevention
Model Policy
This act shall be known as the STATE Prevent Gun Violence Act
This act requires background checks on all firearm transfers and sales to reduce STATE gun violence and save lives.


a. Before any person who is not a licensed gun dealer transfers or attempts to transfer possession of a firearm to a transferee, they shall: 

i. Require that a state and federal background check be conducted as required for sales by licensed gun dealers; and 

ii. Obtain approval of a transfer from the DEPARTMENT after a background check has been requested by a licensed gun dealer.

iii. As used in this section, unless the context requires otherwise, “transferee” means a person who desires to receive or acquire a firearm from a transferor. If a transferee is not a natural person, then each natural person who is authorized by the transferee to possess the firearm after the transfer shall undergo a background check, as described in paragraph (i) and (ii) of this subsection before taking possession of the firearm.


a. A prospective firearm transferor who is not a licensed gun dealer shall arrange for a licensed gun dealer to obtain the state and federal background check required by this section

b. A licensed gun dealer who obtains a background check on a prospective transferee shall record the transfer and retain the records in the same manner as when conducting a sale, rental, or exchange at retail. The licensed gun dealer shall comply with all state and federal laws as if they were transferring the firearm from their inventory to the prospective transferee.

c. A licensed gun dealer who obtains a background check for a prospective firearm transferor pursuant to this section shall provide the firearm transferor and transferee a copy of the results of the background check, including the DEPARTMENTs approval or disapproval of the transfer.

d. A licensed gun dealer may charge a fee for services rendered pursuant to this section, which fee shall not exceed [X] dollars.

e. A prospective firearm transferee under this section shall not

i. Accept possession of the firearm unless the prospective firearm transferor has obtained approval of the transfer from the DEPARTMENT after a background check has been requested by a licensed gun dealer, as described in paragraph (ii) of subsection (a) of this section.

ii. Knowingly provide false information to a prospective firearm transferor or a licensed gun dealer for the purpose of acquiring a firearm.

3. If the DEPARTMENT approves a transfer of a firearm pursuant to this section, the approval shall be valid for thirty calendar days, during which time the transferor and transferee may complete the transfer.

4. A person who transfers a firearm in violation of the provisions of this section shall be subject to [the same penalties that apply to licensed gun dealers who fail to abide by applicable background check requirements] and may be jointly and severally liable for any civil damages proximately caused by the transferee’s subsequent use of the firearm.