Today at 11:30am ET, Shannon Watts and Judi and Wayne Richardson will Represent Everytown and Moms Demand Action at Background Checks Now: A Virtual March –– an Event Hosted by House and Senate Leadership About the Passage of this Bill; Follow Along Live on Facebook.
WASHINGTON — Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements applauding the House of Representatives for passing H.R. 8 –– legislation to require background checks on all gun sales –– with bipartisan support. The bill, which was introduced last week by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), along with Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), 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. Chris Smith (R-NJ), now heads to the Senate.
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. This week, the Biden-Harris administration called for the House to pass this bill, and last month, President Joe Biden released a statement saying “[t]he time to act is now” on gun safety.
“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 bipartisan legislation into law and save lives. Background checks are unfinished business for everyone in the gun safety movement, and now it’s time for the Senate to step up and do its part.”
“This is the moment to act on gun safety, and that starts with background checks on all guns sales,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Our grassroots army of nearly six million supporters is proud to stand behind Speaker Pelosi, Rep. Thompson, and gun safety champions in the House as they pass this bill with bipartisan support and overwhelming support from the American people. Now, with Minority Leader McConnell out of the way, we look forward to the Senate taking action.”
“It’s been 25 years since our federal government last passed a major 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 it will prevent future gun deaths and injuries while honoring Darien with action –– and this legislation would do exactly that.”
“The last time we passed a significant federal gun safety law, my generation hadn’t even been born yet,” said Seo Yoon Yang, a volunteer with Students Demand Action in Tennessee and a member of the Students Demand Action National Advisory Board. “When we go to school each day, we don’t know if we’ll be able to come home –– and that’s because gun violence is now the number one killer of young people in the United States. Background checks on all gun sales are a key step towards ending that carnage, and we applaud the House of Representatives for leading the way towards passing this life-saving legislation into law.”
Last Congress, H.R. 8 passed the House with bipartisan support before then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to bring it up for 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.