Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, D-Delaware, joined Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, and 34 Democrats in a March 6 letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, calling on him to hold hearings on universal background checks legislation, which is supported by 97 percent of Americans.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act on Feb. 27. Carper and Coons recently cosponsored the Senate counterpart bill, the Background Check Expansion Act, which is currently pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The legislation expands federal background checks to all gun sales. Under current federal law, unlicensed or private sellers are not required to conduct a background check prior to transferring a firearm. Research indicates that as many as a quarter of all gun sales in the U.S. may occur without a background check.

“We know that universal background checks save lives, and we know that 97 percent of Americans support them. We noted with interest your statement in the press that you intended to have the committee work on ‘red flag’ legislation and potentially also background checks, both actions we would strongly support,” the senators wrote. “We respectfully request that you hold a hearing on this critical legislation as soon as possible.”

The text of the letter is available at bit.ly/2EIjljt.