Appearing Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch attacked ThinkProgress by name for allegedly failing to cover America’s broken background check system.
Loesch suggested that the failure of media outlets including ThinkProgress to cover those deficiencies was driven by a desire for the system to fail and, presumably, for mass shootings to continue.
Naming ThinkProgress and three other outlets, Loesch asked, “Where are the stories about how only 38 states submit less than 80 percent of criminal convictions to the background check system? It’s only as good as what is submitted to it… I have to question whether they want this system to fail. Where are those headlines?”
Here are those headlines.
February 16, 2018: Oregon House passes bill to close ‘boyfriend loophole’ in background checks for guns
The Oregon House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would expand a federal gun ban to include people convicted of domestic violence against partners they’re not married to, closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole.” The bill would also ban people convicted of misdemeanor stalking from owning a gun. The legislation heads next to the Senate, of which leadership supports, and then Gov. Kate Brown (D), a sponsor of the bill.
November 6, 2017: The Texas shooter got a gun because America’s background check system is a disaster
Sutherland Springs, Texas shooter Devin Kelley was legally prohibited from purchasing a gun, but the Air Force base at which he was stationed never entered his domestic abuse charge into the background check system — and he’s not alone. Many domestic abusers are likely able to purchase firearms because their convictions are never entered into the database.
June 15, 2017: EXCLUSIVE: In 2016, the FBI allowed 300,000 gun sales before completing a background check
Despite promises to fix the system, however, new data the FBI shared with ThinkProgress shows that there were more than 300,000 default proceeds in 2016. Of all background checks performed that year, 3.24 percent resulted in default proceeds. That figure is up from 3.02 percent in 2015 and 2.76 percent in 2014.
Gun dealers don’t have to notify the FBI when they proceed with a sale after the three-business-day deadline, so it’s unclear how many of those default proceeds resulted in an actual sale without a background check.
Government data also shows that many of these cases are associated with misdemeanor domestic violence charges. States do not always share related records, and often domestic violence charges aren’t easily identifiable in FBI databases. That raises concerns that firearms could get into the hands of convicted abusers.
July 11, 2015: How our flawed background check system put a gun in Dylann Roof’s hands
Reported lapses in the FBI’s background check system allowed Dylann Roof, accused of murdering nine people at a historically black church in South Carolina, to purchase a gun. Now, the emerging details about Roof are reigniting a contentious debate over gun policy that tracks closely with similar conversations following other recent mass shootings…
Information about Roof’s previous drug charges, which should have triggered the rejection of his attempted gun purchase, wasn’t easily accessible in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). But federal law currently operates under a “default proceed” process — which means that, even if a background check hasn’t been completed, the transaction can legally go through anyway after three days have passed.
June 6, 2014: Why domestic abusers can still buy guns
And while restraining orders and misdemeanor abuse convictions bar gun ownership in federal background checks, some 35 states don’t enforce their own laws against these major categories of abusers, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.
Even among those categories of crimes that are banned, the FBI far too often doesn’t get the data they need to make the background check system effective. Only three states appear to be submitting complete records to the FBI. Those states — Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New Mexico — account for 79 percent of all state domestic violence records submitted, while some states are submitting no records at all. Most states also do little to remove guns from abusers after they are convicted. Forty-one states have no clear law on the books requiring all domestic abusers to relinquish the guns they already own.
June 14, 2013: Nevada governor vetoes background check bill on eve of Newtown six month anniversary
Defying 87 percent of the state’s voters, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) vetoed a universal background check bill for gun purchases on Thursday — one day before the six-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.
The bill, passed by Nevada’s Democratically controlled state legislature, would have required a background check prior to all gun sales and would have increased reporting of mental illness data. The National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm called the proposal “misguided gun control legislation being forced on law-abiding citizens of Nevada.”
April 4, 2013: Your essential guide to the background check debate
Criminals and mentally ill individuals can buy guns at gun shows or online and many who go through a federally licensed dealer often slip through the cracks because states are not putting records into the NICS system. In fact, following the Newtown tragedy, the NRA successfully attached riders to the resolution funding the government through September that limited enforcement tools against crooked dealers and interfered with ATF gun trace reports. That’s why the Manchin-Toomey bill expands checks and improves the existing system.
These are just a handful of dozens of ThinkProgress stories over many years on deficiencies in the background check system and the connection of those deficiencies to mass shootings. ThinkProgress has also extensively covered the NRA’s opposition to bipartisan improvements in the system, including the Manchin-Toomey legislation in 2013.