Small-business owners urge Senate to expand background checks on gun sales

·2 min read

A coalition of nearly 900 small-business owners, executives and entrepreneurs on Thursday pressed senators to pass a bipartisan bill to expand background checks on gun sales, citing the damage gun violence inflicts on their communities.

“Businesses like ours lose $1.4 million every day in productivity, revenue, and costs related to gun violence. And we know that communities that experience gun violence are less likely to attract new business, investment, customers, and talent,” the business leaders wrote in a letter to senators organized by the Business Forward Foundation.

“Mass shootings and daily gun violence take place in locations that are vital to our economy and our communities — like retail stores, grocery stores, movie theaters and nightclubs — and are becoming a tragic reality for our employees and our customers.”

The letter comes as a bipartisan group of senators negotiates a gun package that will not include provisions to expand background checks to all gun sales, including transfers between private parties. The House passed two bills to enhance background checks last year, but the measures stalled in the Senate amid opposition from Republican senators and pro-gun rights groups.

Senators are facing calls to pass stricter gun laws after a gunman shot and killed 19 children and two adults at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school late last month. Shortly before that incident, 10 people were killed in a racially motivated mass shooting at a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket.

The small-business leaders noted in their letter that the vast majority of Americans approve of expanding background checks. A poll from NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist released Thursday found that 82 percent of voters support stricter background checks.

“No one has their ear closer to the ground than small business owners, so it’s telling that so many of them are saying don’t look away from the terrible costs of inaction on gun violence,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement.

The House on Wednesday night passed a wide-ranging gun package that would prohibit civilian use of ammunition magazines with more than 15 rounds and raise the age to buy certain semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21 years old, among other measures.

Those measures aren’t expected to garner enough GOP support to earn 60 votes in the Senate, where negotiations are focused around mental health, school safety and incentives for states to enforce red flag laws to take away guns from individuals who pose a threat.

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