This Week, the House Will Vote on H.R. 8, Legislation That Would Require Background Checks for All Gun Sales
Earlier This Month, Investigation Released by Everytown Uncovered One in Nine People Seeking to Buy a Gun on Armslist Was Legally Prohibited from Buying or Owning a Firearm; New Website Lets Americans Compare Nearly 1.2 Million Gun Advertisements Where No Background Check Was Required Across States
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 prepares to vote on the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, sponsored by 233 members of Congress, this week.
H.R. 8 was introduced with 10 original cosponsors, five Democrats and five Republicans: Mike Thompson (D-CA-05), Peter T. King (D-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).
“America’s current background check system is like having two types of security lines at the airport: one for people who are willing to be screened, and one you can waltz right through carrying whatever you want,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We applaud the House for moving so quickly, and we urge representatives on both sides of the aisle to take a stand for common sense by requiring background checks on all gun sales.”
“Since the founding of Moms Demand Action, our volunteers have been fighting to pass background checks legislation through Congress,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “This vote will take minutes, but the road to get here took tens of thousands of volunteer hours, organizing communities in red, blue and purple states to demand common sense gun laws. The fight isn’t over, but this vote is a huge step forward.”
“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 while asleep in her bedroom on January 8, 2010. She spent 20 days in the hospital and died on February 28th 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. “Our lives were shattered and our family would never be the same. Since then, we have fought with everything we have to not let Darien’s death be in vain by fighting for a law that would save lives and require a background check on every gun sale.”
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 individuals. This means that anyone can sell a gun to a stranger they meet online or at gun shows – with no background check, no questions asked, and no way to know whether the buyer is a criminal or otherwise prohibited from having guns.
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 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://everytown.org/backgroundchecks