Bill Tightening Background Checks on Guns Approved
Two pieces of legislation aimed at tightening background checks on weapons purchases and transfers were passed by the House on Thursday, a top priority for Democratic lawmakers.
The Bipartisan Background Checks Act, introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), aims to “use the new background checks process” to ensure that people who are barred from owning a gun are unable to do so.
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The bill passed by a vote of 227-203, with eight Republicans voting in favor and one Democrat, Rep. Jared Golden (Maine), voting against it against his party’s wishes.
New background check provisions for gun transactions between private parties will be implemented under the legislation.
Despite the fact that licensed weapon dealers are required to do so, unlicensed and private sellers are not required to perform background checks for gun transactions under existing law.
The bill will mandate that the gun be taken into custody by a “licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer” while a background check is performed.
Transfers made as a gift between spouses are exempted under the legislation.
Despite opposition from a number of Republican senators, the bill was co-sponsored by three Republicans: Reps. Fred Upton (Mich.), Chris Smith (N.J.), and Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.).
On Thursday, Republicans Vern Buchanan (Fla.), Maria Salazar (Fla.), Andrew Garbarino (N.Y.), Carlos Gimenez (Fla.), and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) joined Democrats in voting for the bill.
Its supporters argued that it is a necessary step in reducing gun violence and preventing weapons from falling into the wrong hands.
“A pandemic shouldn’t be needed to minimize gun violence in this country. “The best way to do that is for Congress to enact commonsense gun safety legislation that makes it more difficult for lethal weapons to fall into the hands of those who cannot carry them responsibly,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said on the floor during Wednesday’s debate.
“H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, will do just that. Nine out of ten Americans support the bill’s amendments. A majority of Republicans, as well as a majority of responsible gun owners, agree on this. This is one of the best examples of legislation that genuinely represents the people’s will in the United States.”
However, opponents of the bill contend that it violates Americans’ Second Amendment rights and would do nothing to prevent crime.
Statistics indicate that the majority of gun-related crimes are not committed by individuals trying to purchase weapons legally, according to Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.). He also said that the new regulations could make it more difficult for victims of violence to acquire or borrow a gun for self-defense in a timely manner.
“How successful have background checks been? According to the Department of Justice, there were 112,000 denials in a single year. Who are the 112,000 people in the picture? My friends on the other side of the aisle will have you believe those were felons — they rescued you from those felons,” they say.
“However, how many of those 112,000 people were prosecuted for attempting to obtain the gun? According to the Department of Justice, there are 12 to 12 in a year. “Who were the other 100,000?” says the narrator.
Republicans also blasted the bill for omitting language requiring gun sellers to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement if an undocumented alien tries to purchase a gun, a clause that had previously passed in a motion to recommit in 2019.
This Congress, GOP senators were ultimately ineffective in their effort to revise the bill by procedural maneuvering.
The Enhanced Background Checks Act, sponsored by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina), seeks to close the “Charleston loophole.”
The bill passed 219-210, with Republican Reps. Fitzpatrick and Smith and Democratic Reps. Golden and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) voting against their own parties.
The existing three-day screening period for conducting a background check before buying a weapon will be extended to ten days under the legislation.
Clyburn introduced the bill after a white nationalist murdered nine Black parishioners at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.
“These people were living out their religion, a faith that taught them to invite in a stranger, a stranger who came to their door and sat with them for an hour in their Bible study. “During debate on the floor on Wednesday, the stranger they had invited in opened fire and killed nine of them, one of whom was the pastor, a former intern of mine,” Clyburn said. “This legislation would have made it impossible for that gentleman to obtain a firearm.”
Republican opponents, on the other hand, believe that both bills violate the civil rights of law-abiding people.
“I will not stand by and watch our freedom be taken away from us. These bills, according to my friends on the other side of the aisle, would save lives. However, nothing in them would have prevented any of the recent mass shootings in our country, according to Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.).
“Rather than pursuing lawbreakers, Democrats want to spread a false narrative that criminalizes private gun ownership. Democrats will inform you that these bills close gaps in the system. However, they say there is a loophole in the legislation that allows law-abiding Americans to buy weapons in the first place.”
Both bills have Biden’s support, but they face an uphill struggle in the upper chamber, where they are unlikely to garner enough Republican votes to reach the 60-vote threshold needed for passage.