A Victory for Gun Sense Years in the Making: U.S. House of Representatives Passes Legislation Requiring Background Checks on All Gun Sales
WASHINGTON – Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown for Gun Safety, released the following statements as the House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 on Wednesday.
H.R. 8 was introduced with 10 original cosponsors, five Democrats and five Republicans: Mike Thompson (D-CA-05), Peter T. King (R-NY-02), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18), Brian Mast (R-FL-18), Robin Kelly (D-IL-02), Fred Upton (R-MI-06), Lucy McBath (D-GA-06) and Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ-04).
“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,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “As the fight moves to the Senate, Everytown is mobilizing our 5.7 million supporters to urge lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to put public safety first and require background checks on all gun sales.”
“I’m incredibly proud of Moms Demand Action’s grassroots army of volunteers and gun violence survivors, who are the secret ingredient to turning a moment a movement,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “In the days since this legislation was introduced, our volunteers attended 200 in-district meetings and had thousands of conversations with their members of Congress. This life-saving and bipartisan legislation passed because the determined leaders in the House listened to local organizers from Oklahoma to Colorado to Virginia who finally proved to lawmakers that voters care about gun safety.”
“Nine years ago this week, our daughter Darien died from complications caused by her injuries when she was shot in her sleep during a home invasion,” said Judi and Wayne Richardson, members of the Everytown Survivor Network whose 25-year-old daughter, Darien, was shot several times during a home invasion on January 8, 2010. She spent 20 days in the hospital and died on February 28 from complications caused by her injuries. The gun that killed Darien was sold at a gun show without a background check. The crime is still unsolved. “Today, Congress honored our daughter’s life, and all the lives that are cut short or changed by gun violence, by passing H.R. 8, a bill that will close the background check loophole by requiring background checks on all gun sales, including unlicensed online sales and unlicensed sales at gun shows.”
Under current federal law, background checks are required only for gun sales by licensed firearm dealers. No background check is required for sales by unlicensed sellers. This means that an unlicensed sellers can sell a gun to a stranger they meet online or at gun shows – with no background check, no questions asked.
Since the background check system was established 25 years ago, Congress has failed to close the loopholes that enable individuals including convicted felons, domestic abusers and people who have been adjudicated mentally ill by a court of law to buy guns without a background check. In that time, the internet has emerged as a massive, unregulated marketplace, where a recent investigation found nearly 1.2 million ads on Armslist.com were for firearm sales where no background check was required. The investigation also found that 1 in 9 people trying to buy a gun online would fail a background check, but that states that have passed a background check law see nearly 85 percent of unlicensed online sellers indicate a check is required to complete the sale. This federal legislation would update the background checks law to fit the times by requiring background checks on all gun sales — not just those sold in brick-and-mortar stores, but in all the places they’re sold today, including unlicensed sellers offering guns for sale online or at gun shows.
In the face of previous Congressional inaction, gun violence prevention advocates including Moms Demand Action volunteers have successfully pressured states to take the lead on this issue. Last year, Vermont became the 20th state to go beyond federal law and require a background check on every gun sale. Gov. Sisolak of Nevada just signed legislation to ensure there are background checks on all gun sales in the state. A similar ballot initiative was passed in 2016, but under the previous administration was never implemented. And states including Minnesota, New Mexico, Delaware and Florida are expected to consider bills to strengthen the background check system this year.
More information about background checks is available at https://www.everytown.org/backgroundchecks.