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Background checks for gun buyers on pace for record 2021 in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Background checks for firearm purchases in the first six months of 2021 hit 1.1 million in Indiana, according to data from the FBI.

That puts this year on pace to beat out the 2020 record of 1.9 million background checks.

“There’s been a lot of criticism about background checks and why do we do them,” Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said. “Well, my response to that is if we find one person, we’ve done the right thing.”

In 2020, less than 1% of the background checks were denied (9,293), according to FBI data acquired by Everytown for Gun Safety. A vast majority of background checks were rejected due to criminal history.

Jennifer Haan, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action Indiana, says background checks are working but she thinks they need to be taken a step further to include private sales.

“I think our background check system works. It’s just that I wish we had them on all gun sales,” Haan said. “We can estimate it’s about 1 in 4 gun sales, but we really have no measure for that.”

Guy Relford, a constitutional rights lawyer, says many of the rejections are violating people’s rights, mainly due to records not being updated. “I represent them in their appeals either to the FBI, for wrongful denial of a gun purchase or to the state police when folks have gotten denied. Looking at their record and they don’t see, for instance, a change in status, like someone could have a felony conviction, but they can have that expunged.” 

Relford points illegal purchases are the problem when it comes to guns getting in the wrong hands. “Since 1994, every purchase from a federally licensed dealer is mandatory, subject to a background check…. It’s criminals that are circumventing the legal purchase process and going out and illegally purchasing guns on the streets.”

Haan, a handgun owner herself, says she’s for Second Amendment rights, but wishes people didn’t believe guns make them safer. “If more guns made people safer, this will be the safest country on Earth,” Haan said, “and that is just not our reality.”