Currently, Texans can obtain guns through private sales and gun shows to avoid federal background check requirements. We know the firearms used for mass shootings and many other gun deaths were purchased through these private sales. 86% percent of Texas voters support strengthening background checks, recognizing that we must do more to keep guns out of the hands of individuals with documented violent histories.
Only gun dealers with a Federal Firearms License (FFL) are required to run a background check before selling a gun in Texas. Texas has NO state requirement for comprehensive background checks when purchasing a firearm. Therefore, persons prohibited from owning firearms due to a documented history of violence can easily obtain a gun – on the internet, at a gun show, or from private sellers. In fact, each year, there are an average of over 69,000 ads on Armslist in Texas for firearm sales that would not require a background check.
Stronger background check requirements could have prevented the 2019 mass shooting in Midland-Odessa in which a man fatally shot seven people and wounded 25 others. The shooter failed a criminal background check when trying to purchase a gun, yet loopholes enabled him to obtain the AR-style weapon used in his deadly attack from an unlicensed seller who wasn’t required to run a background check.
Background Checks Work. Since federal law began requiring FFL background checks in 1994, over 4 million sales to prohibited purchasers have been blocked. States with laws requiring background checks for all gun sales—by point-of-sale check and/or permit—were associated with 10 percent lower homicides rates.
Recommendation: Texas should require that all private sellers, including transactions made at gun shows and over the internet, must conduct a background check through a federally licensed dealer before completing a sale, with exclusions for transfers to a close relative. This measure is supported by the majority of Texans and will save lives.