BREAKING: House Passes Bill Outlawing Private Gun Sales
By Steve Karnowski and Amy Forliti, Associated Press
Encouraged by their majority in the House and Senate, the Democrats are once again striving to pass the first major new guns legislation in more than two decades, starting with tighter background checks.
The House passed a law on Thursday mandating background checks on all firearm sales and transfers. The chamber also voted and expected to pass a bill to allow for an expanded 10-day review for arms purchases. Similar laws were passed by parliament in 2019 shortly after the Democrats won a majority but suffered for the next two years in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Democrats now also hold the Senate, giving the party hope that the legislation will at least be considered. But the bills would take significant bipartisan support to pass.
The renewed push is the latest move by the Democrats – and some Republicans – who have tried and failed since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that killed 20 children and six educators to adopt stricter arms legislation. While improved background checks are generally popular with the American public, even among some Conservatives, Congress has so far been unable to compromise on this issue. It is unclear whether Senate Democrats could find deep enough support among Republicans to pass new guns legislation in a 50:50 Senate, since it would require 60 votes to do so.
Still, the bills are part of the Democrats’ effort to pursue several key legislative priorities while holding both the Houses of Congress and the White House. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that the Republican “legislative graveyard is over” and that legislation mandating background checks on all arms sales will be voted on in the Senate.
“A vote is what we need,” said Schumer, and they will see where the Republicans stand.
“Maybe we’ll get the votes,” he said. “And if we don’t, we’ll come together as a caucus and find out how we’re going to do it. But we have to do it. “
House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Who has worked with Schumer on gun legislation since the 1990s when they were in the house together, said she and her colleagues had promised gunfight survivors and family members of the deceased that We won’t go away “until the background checks the legislation.
“The gun violence crisis in America is a challenge to our country’s conscience – one that demands that we act,” Pelosi said during Wednesday’s floor debate on the bills. “These solutions will save lives.”
President Joe Biden has urged Congress to strengthen gun laws, including calling for background checks on all gun sales and a ban on offensive weapons. Speaking in February, he said there was no time to wait.
“We owe it to everyone we have lost and everyone who was left to mourn, to change something,” said Biden on the occasion of the third anniversary of the massacre at the Parkland School in Florida, which killed 17 people Life came time to act is now. “
The first bill the 227-203 passedis designed to fill in the loopholes to ensure that background checks are extended to personal and online sales, which often go undetected, including at arms exhibitions. The legislation includes limited exemptions that allow temporary transfers to prevent impending harm, including for use in a target area and for gifts from family members.
The second bill would extend the review period for background checks from three to ten days. South Carolina MP Jim Clyburn, the number 3 Democrat in the house, introduced the legislation after a gunman killed nine people in a church in Charleston, SC in 2015. The FBI said a background check examiner never saw the shooter’s previous arrest report because the wrong arresting agency was listed on state criminal records and the arms dealer was allowed to legally close the transaction after three days.
While the house bills have Republican co-sponsors, most of their GOP counterparts are against the changes. During Wednesday’s debate, Republicans argued that background controls would not stop most mass shootings and would falsely prevent some legitimate gun owners from buying firearms.
Pennsylvania Representative Scott Perry said the bill would lead to more crime because “there would be fewer people out there defending themselves.”
Democrats hope there is a gradual political shift among voters that could help them win GOP votes. Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Who introduced an accompanying bill to expand background checks in the Senate, said he doesn’t think Democrats should just accept that there aren’t 60 votes for the legislation in the Senate.
“I just think we live in a different world than 2013,” Murphy said before the House vote, referring to failed efforts by Congress to extend controls after the Newtown School shootings.
Democrats also point to problems with the National Rifle Association, the longtime advocacy group that poured tens of millions of dollars into Trump’s election in 2016. The organization has been weakened by disputes and legal entanglements over its finances.
But changes are not easy in the Senate, as many in the GOP base are still against any new gun control. Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey and West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate, have worked together for years to compromise on background checks but have not yet proposed what will happen.
Senate Judicial Committee chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill. Said this week his committee plans to hold gun policy hearings over the next few weeks.
Democrats will “test the water and see what the mood is in the Senate,” Durbin said.