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The Editors

Congress Should Heed the People on Gun Safety

Forcing a vote on background checks would hold lawmakers accountable.

Not so fast.  

Not so fast.  

Photographer: George Frey/AFP/Getty Images

Nearly three decades since Congress last passed a meaningful gun-safety law, the House of Representatives is set to consider bills this week to strengthen the federal background-check system. Democratic leaders should move quickly to bring the legislation to a vote in the Senate, as well — and expose those lawmakers who continue to block common-sense reforms the public overwhelmingly supports.

Under current federal law, anyone buying firearms from a licensed seller is subject to a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Since the 1990s, the system has prevented at least 3.5 million sales to prohibited buyers. But it has flaws — and the biggest is a loophole that allows buyers to avoid background checks by purchasing guns from unlicensed dealers, often at gun shows or over the internet. As a result, more than one in five Americans report having made their most recent gun purchase without receiving a background check.