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McCain/Lieberman bill
foreign terrorists
myths & facts

the issues : gun show loophole : McCain/Lieberman bill

Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman are sponsoring a bi-partisan bill to require background checks at gun shows that would finally close the dangerous loophole in our laws that allows criminals, domestic abusers and even terrorists to get guns. The McCain-Lieberman Instant Check Gun Show Bill (S. 890) would stop illegal buyers from evading background checks while respecting the rights of law-abiding individuals who purchase guns at gun shows. There is a House of Representatives counterpart to McCain-Lieberman, H.R. 2377, which is sponsored by Representatives Mike Castle (R-DE) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY). The highlights of the bill include:

• Requiring a criminal background check at all gun shows and public events where at least 75 guns are available for sale;
• Assisting states with the automation of their criminal history records (making all gun background checks faster and easier);
• Allowing for more rapid background checks for private dealers when states can show that an instant check will not let criminals and other illegal buyers get guns;
• Improving enforcement and increasing penalties for criminals who lie on background checks;
• Providing more money for Federal, State and Local gun crime investigators and prosecutors, and improving gun tracing techniques and smart gun technology.

A Common Sense Definition of a Gun Show
• McCain-Lieberman eliminates the confusing definition of previous bills. It defines a gun show simply as any event where at least 75 guns are available for sale.
• The bill corrects a flaw in previous legislation and excludes from background checks the sale of a gun either from a seller's home or to an immediate family member.

Instant Checks at Gun Shows
• For the first 3 years after enactment, McCain-Lieberman allows for a full 3 business days to complete the background check at gun shows.
• After 3 years, states may reduce the time period for background checks between buyers and private sellers at gun shows to 24 hours, once the Department of Justice has certified that no less than 95% of a state's records are sufficiently automated to prevent prohibited buyers from purchasing guns.
• The bill also authorizes funding for states to improve their criminal history records to make background checks faster and more accurate than they are currently.
• The bill allows gun show promoters to get licenses to perform background checks for their unlicensed sellers.

Strengthening Enforcement and No Onerous Paperwork
• The bill adds new penalties for those who lie or illegally evade a background check.
• McCain-Lieberman adds funding for new federal law enforcement, and smart gun technology
• The bill also requires special licensees who conduct background checks at gun shows to maintain the same records that licensed gun stores keep, but it does not require private buyers or sellers to keep records.


Law enforcement, teachers and other groups from around the country have joined with Americans for Gun Safety to voice their support for the McCain-Lieberman bill. The bill also has been endorsed by a number of major national newspapers. Read what they have to say: find out more

AGS has launched television campaigns in support of the McCain-Lieberman bill in Congress.find out more

foreign terrorists

The overwhelming majority of gun dealers are honest and would never knowingly sell guns to a criminals. Consequently, few crime guns are traced back to them. On the other hand, tracing has been used to identify and shut down corrupt gun dealers. Tracing can also protect gun dealers. For example, recently the ATF informed a gun dealer that his store was the source of a high number of traced crime guns. The owner was genuinely shocked. Upon further investigation, the ATF was able to determine that a corrupt employee was selling guns illegally to criminals, without the knowledge of the owner. Without tracing, that employee might have gone undetected.

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