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Blumenthal, Murphy Demand End To 'Default' Gun Sales After Charleston

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy Photo Credit: File
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal Photo Credit: File

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Connecticut's two U.S. senators and 11 of their colleagues, are urging gun dealers to stop selling firearms to anyone who does not first pass a background check.

Democratic U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy made their plea for the halting of “default” sales in the wake of recent tragedies such as the June 17 shooting at a historic black church Charleston, S.C., that left nine people dead.

In “default” sale cases, after a background check indicates that a gun purchaser may have a criminal record, the Federal Bureau of Investigation steps in. If the FBI check takes longer than 72 hours, gun dealers can complete the sale, the senators said.

Suspected Charleston gunman Dylann Roof had been charged in February with felony possession of a narcotic prescription drug. His case was pending when he purchased a semiautomatic Glock handgun on April 11 at the Shooter’s Choice in West Columbia, S.C., a store 25 miles from his home, according to media reports.

“The FBI acknowledges that a fully completed background check would have uncovered the alleged perpetrator’s prior arrest on a drug charge and his drug addiction, thereby barring him from purchasing the .45-caliber handgun with which he took nine lives,” the senators wrote in a letter to gun dealers.

Citing FBI data, the senators said the loophole has allowed gun dealers to proceed with 15,729 sales to “prohibited people” over the last five years.

Blumenthal and Murphy said that a growing number of gun dealers – including WalMart, the country’s largest – do not allow these “default sales.”

The senators have written to Cabela’s, EZ Pawn, and Bass Pro Shops – three large firearms dealers that currently allow such sales – urging them to cease the practice.

“You have a duty to ensure that your products do not get into the hands of dangerous individuals like the Emanuel AME Church shooter,” the letter says. “After the horror inflicted upon the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, no responsible gun retailer should transfer a gun without first conducting a complete background check.”

“Background checks should be pass or fail; it's unconscionable that dangerous people are able to arm themselves based on an incomplete background check,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety.

Senators joining as co-signers of the letter are: Edward J. Markey, D-Mass.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; Tim Kaine, D-Va.; Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; Jack Reed. D-R.I.; Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; and Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

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