The United States has had FBI background checks on firearm sales since 1998. Have these checks kept guns from falling into the wrong hands? Certainly. President Joe Biden’s speech, however, claiming that expanding background checks will provide more security, was framed around mass shootings. He made reference to mass shootings at the beginning of his speech.
What exactly are “expanded background checks”? If Biden and other Democrats are pushing to “expand background checks,” they are pushing for background checks on retail sales to be extended to cover private sales, too. The claim that such expansion would prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands can create the impression that mass shooters obtain their guns through private sales to bypass background checks. However, the reality is the opposite.
The news has kept up-to-date statistics on the most high-profile mass shootings that have occurred in the past fifteen years. All the attackers except three obtained their guns after undergoing background checks. Two of the attackers who evaded the background check were the Clackamas Town Center gunman (December 11, 2012) and the Sandy Hook shooter (December 14, 2012), who stole their guns, which means that no amount of point-of-sale background checks could have prevented them from doing so. And one suspect, the Midland, Texas, attacker (August 31, 2019), was able to acquire his weapon through an auction.
The list of public attackers who obtained their guns after background checks includes the Uvalde, Texas, attacker as well as the Buffalo, New York, assailant. The list of criminals who passed background checks looks like this:
- Indianapolis FedEx (April 15, 2021)
- Atlanta-area (March 16, 2021)
- Parkland High School (February 14, 2018)
- Texas church (November 5, 2017)
- Las Vegas (October 1, 2017)
- Alexandria (June 14, 2017)
- Orlando (June 12, 2016)
- UCLA (June 1, 2016)
- San Bernardino (December 2, 2015)
- Colorado Springs (October 31, 2015)
- Umpqua Community College (October 1, 2015)
- Alison Parker (August 26, 2015)
- Lafayette Movie Theater (July 23, 2015)
- Chattanooga (July 15-16, 2015)
- Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (June 17, 2015)
- Muhammad Cartoon Contest (May 3, 2014)
- Las Vegas cop killers (June 9, 2015)
- Santa Barbara (May 23, 2014)
- Fort Hood (April 2, 2014)
- Arapahoe High School (December 13, 2013)
- D.C. Navy Yard (September 16, 2013)
- Aurora film theater (July 20, 2012)
- Gabby Giffords (January 8, 2011)
- Fort Hood (November 5, 2009)
- Northern Illinois University (February 14, 2008)
- Virginia Tech (April 16, 2007).