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House passes bill to require universal background checks for gun purchases

February 27, 2019

House passes bill to require universal background checks for gun purchases

WASHINGTON, D. C. - The House of Representatives on Wednesday adopted legislation that would subject all gun purchasers to criminal background checks and close loopholes that currently allow internet and gun show sales to go through without them.

The bill passed in a 240-190 vote would also block firearms transfers by people who aren’t licensed dealers. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said passing the bill would “take the first steps towards ending the senseless crisis of gun violence in our nation.” All Ohio Democrats supported the measure, while all the state’s Republicans opposed it.

“I hope that all of us will have the courage to save lives, remembering no one’s political survival here is more important than the survival of the American people, especially our children,” said Pelosi.

House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer said 90 percent of Americans support expanding criminal background checks, and blamed Republicans who previously controlled the House of Representatives for failing to bring up legislation.

“This House is finally going to do its job and take action – not just a moment of silence, but action to address the epidemic of gun violence in our country,” Hoyer said.

Republicans said the proposal wouldn’t have averted many recent mass shootings, like the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. They argued that mentally ill people, not guns, are responsible for mass shootings. They said the proposal mistakenly presumes that criminals who want to buy guns will subject themselves to background checks.

“All this legislation will do is burden law-abiding citizens wishing to exercise their second amendment rights, including defending themselves from gun-toting criminals,” said Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, who is the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.

House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who was seriously wounded in 2017 when a gunman opened fire at a Republican baseball team practice, said the bill would make it harder for law-abiding citizens to buy guns to defend themselves from criminals, and would not have prevented his shooting.

“Our founding fathers believed every American has the right to defend themselves,” said Scalise.

The house has scheduled a Thursday vote on a second piece of legislation that would give the FBI 10 days to perform background checks on gun buyers, instead of the current three.

Under current law, customers can buy guns if their background checks aren’t done within three days. Dylann Roof, who killed nine people in a South Carolina church, was allowed to buy a gun because his background check wasn’t completed in the required time. Roof had a felony drug charge that should have barred him from purchasing a weapon.