Kamala Harris photo

Press Call by the Vice President on Reducing Gun Violence and Expanding Background Checks

April 11, 2024

Via Teleconference

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Stef, for the introduction and for your longstanding leadership on the issue of gun violence. And to everyone, thank you for joining.

So, I'll start with this. Every person in our nation has a right to live free from the horror of gun violence. I do believe that. And yet, today, one in five Americans has a family member who was killed by gun violence.

Today, gun violence is the leading cause of death for the children of America -- not car accidents, not some form of cancer -- gun violence. And, you know, it -- it just -- it does not have to be this way. It does not have to be this way.

We know how to prevent these tragedies. And it's a false choice to suggest that you're either in favor of the Second Amendment or you want to take everyone's guns away.

I'm in favor of the Second Amendment, and I am in favor of reasonable gun safety laws -- for example, background checks.

As the former district attorney of San Francisco, attorney general of California, and a United States senator, I've worked for years to keep our communities safe from gun violence. And as vice president, I am proud that we have strengthened background checks by passing the first significant gun safety legislation in nearly 30 years.

And so, today, we build on that work by addressing one of the biggest gaps in the federal background check system: the so-called "gun show loophole." We've been talking about it for years.

Currently, gun stores are required by law to conduct a background check for every gun sale. But, for decades, many dealers who sell weapons someplace other than the traditional gun store -- say, for example, a gun show or a flea market or even through social media -- have gotten away without conducting background checks. This is the so-called "gun show loophole."

Every year, thousands of unlicensed gun dealers send te- -- sell tens of thousands of guns without a single background check, including to buyers who, if they had been required to pass a background check, would have failed -- for example, domestic abusers, violent felons, and even children.

This single gap in our federal background check system has caused unimaginable pain and suffering.

Next week, our nation will mark 25 years since the tragedy at Columbine, a horrific act of violence that was carried out in part with guns purchased through the gun show loophole.

Since then, from New Paris, Ohio; to Chicago, Illinois; to Midland-Odessa, Texas, so many communities have been torn apart by acts of violence committed with weapons bought without background checks.

So, in the memory of all those we have lost, today, as the head of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, I am proud to announce that all gun dealers now must conduct background checks no matter where or how they sell their merchandise.

In conclusion, I'll say, in the years to come, I do believe countless families and communities will be spared the horror and the heartbreak of gun violence by this new rule. And as we fight to keep our communities safe, President Joe Biden and I will continue to call on the United States Congress to have the courage to pass universal background checks, red-flag laws, and an assault weapons ban.

I thank you all. And now I will turn it over to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Kamala Harris, Press Call by the Vice President on Reducing Gun Violence and Expanding Background Checks Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/371134

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