WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives passed the H.R.8, gun control legislation that expands background checks on individuals seeking to purchase or transfer firearms.
“This bill is a critical step toward preventing gun violence and saving lives,” Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., who sponsored the bill, said ahead of its passage. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., introduced the companion bill in the Senate.
The bill, titled the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, passed 227-203. It received a handful of Republican votes — eight — and had one Democrat vote against. In 2019, the bill was passed with eight Republican votes, five of whom co-sponsored the package.
What H.R. 8 does and doesn’t do
H.R. 8, a clean background checks package meant to enhance reviews of those seeking to acquire firearms, does not create a firearms registry or other federal mechanisms for review.
Instead, the legislation would expand the cases where a background check is required for the sale or transfer of a firearm by requiring checks for private individuals and groups whenever selling or transferring firearms, closing the so-called “Gun Show Loophole.” The new requirements would also apply to online sales.
The bill makes it illegal for anyone who is not a licensed firearm importer, manufacturer or dealer to trade or sell firearms to another person; current federal law only requires background checks for licensed gun dealers.
More:The House is moving on after passing COVID-19 relief. Here’s a look ahead to what’s on the agenda.
Nonlicensed individuals who would like to sell or trade weapons could do so through a licensed firearms dealer who would run the necessary background checks.
As with much legislation today, the bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where Republican lawmakers largely remain obstinate to any gun control measures. The bill passed with a few Republican votes, signaling there may be support among the GOP for such measures.
People could still temporarily trade and share firearms at shooting ranges, on hunting trips and when it is “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm” under the new regulations.
More:$1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill with $1,400 stimulus checks passes House, heads to President Biden for signature
Schumer vows to bring gun control bill to Senate vote
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters he would try to put the background check legislation on the Senate floor despite opposition from Republicans.
Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the enhanced background check legislation in the last session of Congress, but Schumer vowed, “H.R. 8 will be on the floor of the Senate, and we will see where everybody stands. No more hopes and prayers.”
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., predicted Republicans might support the bill.
“You can’t compare 2013 to 2021,” he said, referring to a previous push for gun control. “There are a lot of Republican senators that are thinking about voting for a proposal that allows them to get right on this issue.”
But it is unclear if there will be enough Republican votes to bypass a key procedural roadblock known as a filibuster, which would require at least 10 Republicans to vote with all 50 Democrats in the Senate and advance the legislation.
The bill could face opposition from Senate Republicans or conservative Democrats who do not support more restrictions on guns.
Contributing: Nicholas Wu