The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, or H.R.8, passed in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, marking the most significant proposed gun control measure in the last 20 years, according to supporters.
An additional measure, H.R.1112 or, the “Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019,” was also passed the next day. This one would allow the F.B.I longer than the 3 days they currently have to run firearm background checks.
Under current law, if the F.B.I has not finished the background check within those 3 days, the retailer can proceed with the transaction.
H.R.8 however, is the bill sparking the hottest debate. It looks to mandate background checks for all firearm purchases in an effort to curb “gun violence” and mass shootings by making it more difficult for a mentally ill individual to obtain a weapon.
If the bill were to become law–all firearm sales, gun show or gun shop, private or public, will be required to have a back-ground check performed.
Activist group Everytown for Gun Safety president, John Feinblatt, commended lawmakers for backing the measure.
We applaud Speaker Pelosi and the bipartisan coalition of House members who supported this bill for stepping up and doing their part to close the giant — and deadly — loopholes in America's background checks law.
Critics are not convinced the legislation would work as intended but would only serve to turn law abiding citizens into criminals, while criminals continue to operate as normal.
Executive Director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action, Chris Cox, said of H.R.8:
Criminals… will continue to get their firearms the way they always have – through the black market, theft, and straw purchases. Forcing more government paperwork and additional fees on good people trying to exercise a constitutional right will do nothing to make Americans safer.
Proponents of the measure argue that every little bit counts in preventing gun violence and think this will help.
“There’s no reason to continue to make it easy for people who are legally prohibited from possessing firearms to acquire them by circumventing the background-check process. H.R. 8 would close this dangerous loophole and save many, many lives,” Representative Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.) said in support before the vote.
Detractors of the legislation contend that the freedom of transferring the physical examples of American citizen's 2nd Amendment right would be significantly reduced. Others say the bill is far to harsh on something as simple as letting a friend borrow a firearm.
Representative Steve Scalise (R., LA.), who was seriously injured after being shot in the 2017 Congressional Baseball Shooting said in a video Tweet:
Think about this: Under these bills (H.R.8, 1112), if you loan your gun to a friend, you could actually go to prison for a year and have up to a $100,000 fine. These bills are very dangerous for gun owners … Both of these bills will strongly infringe upon the rights of law-abiding citizens to buy and ultimately share their own guns.
According to the text of H.R.8, a temporary transfer of a firearm may only occur without a background check if:
“… the transferor has no reason to believe that the transferee will use or intends to use the firearm in a crime or is prohibited from possessing firearms under State or Federal law, and the transfer takes place and the transferee’s possession of the firearm is exclusively—
- At a shooting range or in a shooting gallery or other area designated for the purpose of target shooting;
- While reasonably necessary for the purposes of hunting, trapping, or fishing, if the transferor—
- Has no reason to believe that the transferee intends to use the firearm in a place where it is illegal; and
- Has reason to believe that the transferee will comply with all licensing and permit requirements for such hunting, trapping, or fishing; or
- While in the presence of the transferor.”
While both bills have passed in the House of Representatives, many do not anticipate these measures surviving the Republican controlled Senate, and White House officials have already hinted at a veto.
According to a poll done by Quinnipiac University Poll, 89% of Republicans, 95% of Democrats, and 94% of Independents were in favor of requiring background checks for all gun buyers.
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