Factsheets

Hillary Clinton Believes It’s Time to Act on Gun Violence

America simply cannot accept as “normal” about 33,000 gun deaths every year. The vast majority of the American people – including law abiding gun owners – believe we can and must do better. Hillary Clinton lived in Arkansas and represented Upstate New York – she knows that gun ownership is part of the fabric of many law-abiding communities. But as a nation we can no longer allow guns to fall into the hands of domestic abusers, other violent criminals, and the seriously mentally ill. It is a rebuke to the families that have lost loved ones, to the communities that are plagued by gun violence, and to this nation that we love.

Clinton believes some fights are too important to give up on—and this is one of them. Her fights are your fights and she will act on gun violence.

That is why, as president, Clinton will:

Fight for comprehensive background checks.

It is estimated that 20 to 40 percent of all gun purchases in America are conducted with no background check because federal law fails to cover unlicensed transfers online, at gun shows, and between anonymous strangers. Yet, more than 90 percent of Americans support background checks because they work. Since President Clinton signed the Brady background check bill into law, more than 2.4 million prohibited gun purchases have been blocked. More than one million of those attempted purchases were by felons. To increase the number of gun sales subject to background checks, Clinton will:

  • Advocate for comprehensive federal background check legislation. Laws prohibiting dangerous individuals from buying guns are only as effective as our background check system is comprehensive. Background checks reduce gun trafficking,  reduce the lethality of domestic violence,  and reduce unlawful gun transfers to dangerous individuals.  It is reprehensible that bipartisan legislation supporting background checks failed in Congress after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But Clinton is not giving up – she will continue to fight for legislation to build on the Brady bill’s success.
  • Close the “Charleston Loophole.” Clinton will push Congress to close the “Charleston Loophole” that allows a gun sale to proceed without a completed background check if that check is not complete within three days. The alleged Charleston shooter had a federal criminal record but was able to purchase a gun precisely because of this loophole. This same loophole allowed over 2,500 prohibited gun purchases in 2014. Clinton will support congressional efforts to close the “Charleston Loophole” and provide sufficient time and resources to complete a background check before a sale is approved.
  • Tighten the gun show and Internet sales loophole if Congress won’t. If Congress refuses to act, Clinton will take administrative action to require that any person attempting to sell a significant number of guns be deemed “in the business” of selling firearms. This would ensure that high-volume gun sellers are covered by the same common sense rules that apply to gun stores—including requiring background checks on gun sales.

Hold dealers and manufacturers fully accountable if they endanger Americans.

While the vast majority of gun dealers and manufacturers operate safely and responsibly, the select few that do not should be held accountable. However, due to lobbying efforts by the NRA, these bad actors are granted unique protections in our laws, and the country’s law enforcement agencies often face barriers when attempting to hold them accountable. To ensure that the safety of our communities is prioritized over the profits of the gun lobby, Clinton will:

  • Repeal the gun industry’s unique immunity protection. The NRA lobbied Congress to pass the so-called “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act,” a dangerous law which prevents victims of gun violence from holding negligent manufacturers and dealers accountable for violence perpetrated with their guns. It is past time to repeal this law and hold the gun industry accountable just like everyone else. Clinton voted against this law in 2005 and will lead the charge to repeal it as president.
  • Revoke the licenses of bad-actor dealers. Clinton believes that because gun violence is the leading cause of death for black males aged 15-24 – responsible for more deaths than the nine other leading causes combined – we must do more to crack down on gun stores that flood our communities with illegal guns. Due to the NRA and their Republican allies, the agency responsible for ensuring gun dealers are following the law and keeping our communities safe has been underfunded and attacked. As a result, 58 percent of gun stores have not been inspected within the past five years. Further, while 38 percent of dealers that were inspected in 2011 were non-compliant with federal law, only 0.68 percent of inspected dealers had their licenses revoked. As president, Clinton will provide funding to increase inspections and aggressively enforce current law by revoking the licenses of dealers that knowingly supply straw purchasers and traffickers.

Keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, other violent criminals, and the severely mentally ill.

It makes no sense that in America dangerous and unstable individuals can obtain deadly weapons. As president, Clinton will:

  • Support legislation to prohibit all domestic abusers from buying and possessing guns.  Women are 11 times more likely to be murdered with guns in the United States than women in other high-income countries, and more than half of them are murdered by intimate partners or family members. While federal law generally prohibits domestic abusers from purchasing or possessing guns, this protection does not apply to people in dating relationships or convicted stalkers. Clinton will fight for legislation to prohibit all of these domestic abusers and stalkers from buying guns.
  • Make straw purchasing a federal crime. When an individual with a clean record buys a gun with the intention of giving it to a violent felon – only so that felon can avoid a background check – it should be a crime. Currently, “straw purchasing” is a paperwork violation. This needs to change.
  • Improve existing law prohibiting persons suffering from severe mental illness from purchasing or possessing a gun. The ATF should finalize its rulemaking to close loopholes in our laws and clarify that people involuntarily committed to outpatient treatment, such as the Virginia Tech shooter, are prohibited from buying guns.
  • Keep military-style weapons off our streets. Military-style assault weapons do not belong on our streets. They are a danger to law enforcement and to our communities. Clinton supports keeping assault weapons off our streets.