New Map Shows 98.4 Percent Of Americans Live Within 10 Miles Of A Gun Dealer, Proving That Background Checks For All Gun Sales Would Be Fast, Easy -- And Save Lives

Mar 13, 2013, 12:47 ET from Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Legislation Sponsored by Senator Schumer Would Close the Private Sale Loophole by Requiring Private Sellers to Meet Buyers at a Local Dealer to Conduct a Background Check;

NEW YORK, March 13, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Mayors Against Illegal Guns released a map today showing that 98.4 percent of Americans live within ten miles of a gun store, disproving the gun lobby's claim that background checks would be a burden for private gun sellers and bolstering the case for checks on all gun sales. There are 58,344 federally licensed gun dealers in the United States – nearly twice the number of post offices and four times the number of McDonald's – making it fast and easy for private sellers to meet buyers at local gun dealers to run a background check before completing a sale. Ninety percent of background checks take just minutes to complete, further illustrating the ease and convenience of a required check. The national map, as well as state-by-state maps showing federally licensed gun dealers across the country, can be viewed here:

"The gun lobby has long argued that requiring background checks would be burdensome for sellers – these maps definitively refute that idea," said Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "It's clear that, no matter where you live in America, getting a background check will be quick and convenient – who wouldn't drive ten miles to save a life? Americans overwhelmingly support background checks for all gun sales. It's time for Congress to make it a reality."

"The NRA's argument that background checks are 'inconvenient' for gun sellers and buyers is ridiculous, especially since almost every American lives within ten miles of a licensed gun dealer," said Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "These checks are quick, easy measures that will help make our neighborhoods safer. That's why Americans almost unanimously agree that we need background checks for every gun sale – and that's why it's time for our leaders in Washington to act."

Under current law, federally licensed gun dealers are required to conduct criminal background checks on all gun buyers. Around 40 percent of U.S. gun transfers, however, are conducted by unlicensed "private sellers" who are not required to conduct a federal check,[1] and who often do business at gun shows and on the Internet. This indicates that about 6.6 million guns were transferred in the U.S. in 2012 with no background check for the buyer.[2] This loophole allows dangerous people who are prohibited from buying guns – including felons, domestic abusers and the seriously mentally ill – to avoid a background check by simply avoiding licensed dealers.

The Protecting Responsible Gun Owners Act (S.374), sponsored by New York Senator Charles E. Schumer, would require background checks for all gun sales and would close the private sale loophole. The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday.

Evidence demonstrates that background checks save lives. For example, in the 14 states that already require background checks for all handgun sales:

  • Gun trafficking is 48 percent lower than in states that fail to require background checks for all handgun sales.[3]
  • In 2010, the rate of women murdered by an intimate partner with a gun was 38 percent lower than in other states, while the rate murdered by other means was nearly identical.[4]
  • The firearm suicide rate was 49 percent lower than in other states, even though people committed suicide in other ways at almost precisely the same rate.[5]

Recent polls by Mayors Against Illegal Guns showed likely voters in a wide range of states and congressional districts overwhelmingly support background checks for all gun sales. The average support for background checks for all gun sales among 41 congressional district polls was 89 percent; the average among 21 statewide polls was 86 percent. These findings are in line with recent independent polls that have found more than 90 percent of Americans support background checks for all buyers.  Previous polling by Republican Frank Luntz for Mayors Against Illegal Guns also found that 82 percent of gun owners – including 74 percent of National Rifle Association members – support requiring criminal background checks for anyone purchasing a gun.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns recently released an ad highlighting the NRA's flip-flop on background checks. NRA President Wayne LaPierre recently testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Washington gun lobby no longer supports background checks for all gun sales. The coalition's ad highlighted previous LaPierre testimony before Congress from 1999 in which he said that the NRA supported closing background check loopholes, "No loopholes anywhere. For anyone." 

About Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Since its inception in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15 mayors to more than 900 mayors from across the country. We have more than 1.4 million grassroots supporters, making us the largest gun violence prevention advocacy organization in the country. The bipartisan coalition, co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, has united the nation's mayors around these common goals: protecting their communities by holding gun offenders and irresponsible gun dealers accountable; demanding access to trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat illegal gun trafficking; and working with legislators to fix gaps, weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other prohibited purchasers to get guns. Learn more at

Mayor Bloomberg's Press Office (212) 788-2958
Mayor Menino's Press Office (617) 635-4461

[1] Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, Guns in America, 1996, available at 2,568 individuals, including 251 gun owners, were surveyed by telephone and asked how they obtained their firearms.

[2] In the 38 states that have not fully closed the private sale loophole, an estimated 9,856,984 background checks were conducted between November 2011 and November 2012, out of an estimated 16.5 million total firearm transfers in those states. 40 percent of this total—6.6 million transfers—occurred without background checks. Calculation based on FBI data. Available:

[3] Daniel Webster, Jon Vernick, & Maria Bulzacchelli, "Effects of State-Level Firearm Seller Accountability Policies on Firearm Trafficking," Journal of Urban Health, July 2009.

[4] U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supplementary Homicide Reports, 2011.

[5] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. (2005) [cited 2012 Dec. 20].

SOURCE Mayors Against Illegal Guns