Oppose the McCain-Lieberman Gun Show Bill (S. 890) – It Would Open More Loopholes Than it Would Close

June 12, 2001

Dear Senator:

The undersigned organizations oppose the Gun Show Loophole Closing and Gun Law Enforcement Act of 2001 (S. 890), sponsored by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) because it would open more loopholes than it would close. We ask that you oppose S. 890 and instead give your support to The Gun Show Background Check Act (S. 767) – the only bill that will effectively close the deadly gun show loophole.

The McCain- Lieberman “compromise” bill is not better than nothing – in fact it’s worse:

  • The McCain-Lieberman bill sets weaker standards for unlicensed individuals versus licensed dealers. The McCain-Lieberman bill would shorten the background checks for sales by unlicensed sellers from 3 business days to 24 hours if certain conditions are met. This approach misses the forest for the trees. There is absolutely nobasis whatsoever to treat gun sales at gun shows differently depending on whether the seller is licensed or unlicensed. Indeed, the desire to treat all sales the same is precisely the reason for closing the gun show loophole in the first place.

  • The McCain-Lieberman bill reduces the time for law enforcement to do adequate background checks. The 24-hour provision allowed for unlicensed sales would not provide enough time to stop sales to felons. Since many gun shows take place on the weekends, when state and local law enforcement offices are closed, the information necessary to complete a background check would not be accessible within 24 hours. This bill would effectively draw more criminals to unlicensed individuals who sell at gun shows. In operation, it may sell more guns but it would put the public at risk.

Keep it simple. There’s already a bill to close the gun show loophole that will do the job. The Gun Show Background Check Act (S. 767), sponsored by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), simply extends existing federal law that applies to sales by licensed dealers to include all sales at gun shows. Most importantly, this legislation allows law enforcement up to three business days to complete background checks. The three business day provision must be preserved for all sellers at gun shows – anything less will be a windfall for criminals and a nightmare for law enforcement.

We ask that you oppose S. 890 and support S. 767 – the only bill that will effectively close the gun show loophole. We have enclosed several fact sheets for your reference. Please call Susan Peschin, Firearms Project Manager at Consumer Federation of America, at (202) 939-1017 with any questions. We thank you for doing the right thing for all Americans.


National Organizations
American Association of Suicidology
American Medical Students Association
American Medical Women’s Association
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
Children’s Defense Fund
Church Women United – Washington Office
Consumer Federation of America
The Episcopal Church, Office of Government Relations
Jewish Women International
Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs, ELCA
National Association of School Psychologists
National Black Police Association, Inc.
National Center for Women and Policing
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
National Network to End Domestic Violence
National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE)
National Women’s Health Network
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Physicians for a Violence-Free Society
Presbyterian Church (USA), Washington Office
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Violence Policy Center

State and Local Organizations
Physicians for Social Responsibility/San Francisco Bay Area (CA)
Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CO)
Physicians for Social Responsibility/Colorado (CO)
Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CT)
Consumer Fraud Watch (FL)
Physicians for Social Responsibility/Atlanta (GA)
Champaign County Health Care Consumers (IL)
Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence (IO)
Iowians for the Prevention of Gun Violence (IO)
Massachusetts Consumers’ Coalition (MA)
Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MI)
Missouri Coalition Against Domestic Violence (MO)
New York Public Interest Research Group (NY)
Physicians for Social Responsibility/New York City (NY)
Physicians for Social Responsibility/Syracuse, New York (NY)
North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NC)
North Carolina Consumers Council, Inc. (NC)
Ohio Domestic Violence Network (OH)
Physicians for Social Responsibility/Northeast Ohio (OH)
Physicians for Social Responsibility/Southwest Ohio (OH)
Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (OK)
Oregon Consumers League (OR)
Mercer County Community Action Agency (PA)
Pennsylvania Citizens Consumer Council (PA)
Physicians for Social Responsibility/Philadelphia (PA)
Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RI)
Physicians for Social Responsibility/Madison, Wisconsin (WI)