Last updated on: 11/13/2023 | Author:

Should the U.S. Require Universal Background Checks for Gun Purchases?

Universal background checks for firearm sales is a gun control measure that would expand existing background checks to include all gun sales, including those between family members. For more on gun control, explore the ProCon debate.

PRO (yes)


Joe Biden:

“The Executive Order directs the President’s Cabinet to:

Increase the number of background checks by ensuring that all background checks required by law are conducted before firearm purchases, moving the U.S. as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation. A large majority of Americans support background checks and agree it’s common sense to check whether someone is a felon or domestic abuser before allowing them to buy a gun. The President will continue to call on Congress to pass universal background check legislation. In the meantime, he is directing the Attorney General to do everything he can to ensure that firearms sellers who do not realize they are required to run background checks under existing law, or who are willfully violating existing law, become compliant with background check requirements. Specifically, the President is directing the Attorney General to move the U.S. as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation by clarifying, as appropriate, the statutory definition of who is ‘engaged in the business’ of dealing in firearms, as updated by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. This move would mean fewer guns will be sold without background checks, and therefore fewer guns will end up in the hands of felons and domestic abusers. The President is also directing the Attorney General to develop and implement a plan to prevent former federally licensed firearms dealers, whose licenses have been revoked or surrendered, from continuing to engage in the business of dealing in firearms.”

Editors’ Note: The Executive Order mentioned above was signed on Mar. 14, 2023.


White House, “Fact Sheet: President Biden Announces New Actions to Reduce Gun Violence and Make Our Communities Safer,”, Mar. 14, 2023

CON (no)


Chris Christie:

“I don’t support background checks for every gun sale.”


Claude Brodesser-Akner, “Christie Just Said What about Universal Background Checks for Guns?,”, Jan. 18, 2026


Ron DeSantis:

“With all due respect to these leftists, they just want to come after your Second Amendment rights… You focus on the criminal. You focus on the lunatic. You don’t knee cap the rights of law abiding citizens.”

Editors’ Note: The above comments were made in response to questions about Democratic lawmakers in Florida working to pass a gun control bill that included universal background checks.


Jason Delgado, “Gov. DeSantis Won’t Reform Florida Gun Laws, Bats down Democrats’ Demand for Special Session,”, June 9, 2022


Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.:

“I do not believe that there is, within that Second Amendment, that there’s anything we can meaningfully do to reduce the trade in the ownership of guns. And I’m not going to take people’s guns away. Anybody who tells you that they’re going to be able to reduce gun violence through gun control at this point I don’t think is being realistic.”

Editors’ Note: Because Kennedy expresses a con opinion above on all gun control measures, ProCon has marked Kennedy as against universal background checks.


Hanna Trudo, “RFK Jr. Argues Gun Control Cannot ‘Meaningfully’ Reduce Gun Violence,”, June 28, 2023

Not Clear or Not Found

Doug Burgum:

No position found as of Sep. 12, 2023

Nikki Haley:

“Nikki is a strong defender of the Second Amendment and fought to protect gun owners’ rights as governor. In 2012, she signed a bill that repealed many of the state’s outdated anti-gun laws. She signed reciprocity legislation with Georgia, expanded concealed carry rights to bars and restaurants, and backed the Constitutional Carry Act that would have eliminated the state’s permitting and training requirements for gun owners.”

Editors’ Note: ProCon has not found a statement from Haley about universal background checks that would allow us to mark her as against the gun control measure. However, the NRA-PVF {National Rifle Association-Political Victory Fund) endorsed Nikki Haley for South Carolina Governor in 2014 stating, “Haley rejects expanded licensing and registration schemes and so-called ‘universal’ background checks, which require federal government approval for transferring firearms between life-long friends and family members.”


Nikki Haley, “Record of Results,” (accessed Sep. 13, 2023)
Source for Editors’ Note: NRA-PVF, “NRA Endorses Nikki Haley for Governor of South Carolina,”, Sep. 25, 2014

Vivek Ramaswamy:

“The ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives], is an agency beyond repair. I have already pledged to shut down the FBI and to rebuild a new federal law enforcement apparatus from scratch. This new apparatus can perform the function of background checks without creating a gun registry or shadow database – and I will shut down the ATF whose culture has become so toxic that it cannot merely be ‘reformed,'”

Editors’ Note: Universal background checks would require that even private sales go through NICS. Though Ramaswamy supports background checks, whether Ramaswamy endorses the expansion is unclear.


Brandon Gillespie, “GOP Hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy to Call for Shut Down of ATF, Expanded 2A Rights in NRA Convention Speech,”, Apr. 13, 2023

Donald Trump:

Q: “Your position on background checks.”

Trump: “So Congress is looking at it very strongly bipartisan. I put in certain parameters, which you somewhat know about. I’m also very very concerned with the Second Amendment. Moreso than most presidents would be. People don’t realize we have very strong background checks right now. You go in to buy a gun, you have to sign up. There are a lot of background checks that have been approved over the years. So I’ll have to see what it is. But Congress is meeting bipartisan. Lot of people want to see something happen. But just remember this big mental problem and we do have a lot of background checks right now.”

Q: “So you’re not willing to support universal background checks right now?”

Trump: “I’m not saying anything. I’m saying Congress is going to be reporting back to me with ideas. And they’ll come in from Democrats and Republicans and I’ll look at it very strongly. But just remember, we already have a lot of background checks.”

Editors’ Note: Trump previously favored universal background checks.


Zack Ford, “Trump Drops Support for Enhanced Background Checks Two Weeks after Mass Shootings,”, Aug. 19, 2019