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Q&A

What is the Background Check Loophole?

For more than 25 years, federal law has required background checks on all gun sales from licensed gun dealers. However, federal law does not require background checks on sales between unlicensed parties—like those that frequently occur online or at gun shows. This loophole is sometimes referred to as the “gun show” loophole—even though it is much broader than just gun shows. This loophole makes it incredibly easy for people prohibited from having guns to avoid the background check system and get their hands on guns. While 22 states and Washington, D.C. have closed this loophole by requiring background checks on all handgun sales, Congress has not acted and the majority of states have not closed this loophole. 

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