WASHINGTON — Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements applauding the introduction of legislation in the House and Senate to require background checks on all gun sales. The House bill, H.R. 8, is being introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), along with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA), Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI). The Senate version is led by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV).
Background checks on all gun sales is Everytown’s top legislative priority for this Congress, and recent polling shows that 93% of Americans support it –– a number on par with passing another COVID-19 relief package. Last month, President Joe Biden reiterated his long standing support for this type of bill, releasing a statement calling for Congress to pass background checks on all gun sales and saying, “The time to act is now.”
“Gun violence is an epidemic within this pandemic, and the first step in addressing it is background checks on all gun sales,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “With the NRA sidelined by bankruptcy and a gun safety trifecta in Washington, we have a historic opportunity to pass this legislation into law and save lives. This is unfinished business for everyone in the gun safety movement, and the time to get it done is now.”
“Despite the daily deaths of over 100 Americans from gun violence –– and hundreds more wounded –– then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow background check legislation to have a vote in the Senate last Congress,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “But that era ended on Election Day, and now, our grassroots army of nearly 6 million supporters will make sure this historic legislation is passed into law.”
“It’s been 25 years since our federal government last passed a gun safety law: that’s 25 years of families being devastated as their loved ones were killed or wounded, 25 years of survivors and activists like us demanding change, and 25 years of the gun lobby and its allies standing in the way of overwhelmingly popular, life-saving legislation,” said Judi and Wayne Richardson, volunteers with Everytown and survivors of gun violence whose 25-year-old daughter, Darien, was shot several times during a home invasion on January 8, 2010. She spent 21 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. “But now, that wait can finally be over. Nothing can bring our daughter Darien back, but we must honor her death with action –– and this legislation would do exactly that.”
Last Congress, H.R. 8 the bill passed through the House with bipartisan support before then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to grant it a vote in the Senate.
Ninety three percent of voters, 89% of Republicans, and 87% of gun owners support background checks on all gun sales, and there’s a good reason why: background checks save lives. But because of loopholes in our current laws, nearly a quarter of Americans who obtain firearms do so without getting a background check. Each year, 1.2 million online ads offering firearms for sale are listed that would not legally require a background check to be completed. And nearly 1 in 1 in 9 prospective buyers who respond to these ads would not pass a background check.
Requiring background checks on all gun sales is especially critical during COVID-19: gun sales skyrocketing in stores and in the online market for unlicensed sales, meaning that hundreds of thousands of guns are being sold through unlicensed sellers with no background check and no questions asked.
If passed into law, H.R. 8 would become the first meaningful federal gun safety legislation enacted in 25 years. While this legislation moves through Congress, the White House can also address this crisis: As detailed in this Everytown roadmap, there are important steps the Biden-Harris administration can take to strengthen the background system, including clarifying the definition of who is “engaged in the business” of selling guns to clearly capture high-volume sellers.