WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed significant gun control legislation for the first time in more than two decades.
The universal background check bill, H.R. 8, requires background checks on all firearm sales in the country. Currently, only licensed gun dealers must perform background checks for anyone seeking to purchase a firearm. Most unlicensed sellers do not; H.R. 8 would make that illegal. There are exemptions to the law like “gifts to family members and transfers for hunting, target shooting, and self-defense,” according to the House Judiciary Committee website.
The bill included an amendment by Oklahoma Rep. Kendra Horn to protect citizens from domestic abusers.
“We need to protect our Second Amendment right, but there is no credible reason why we – as a state and nation – can’t acknowledge there are steps we can take to save lives,” the Congresswoman said. “H.R. 8 does just that. It increases safety without limiting our second amendment rights by implementing commonsense policy. There is no reason vendors at gun shows or online should be exempt from the safety measures other merchants must obey.”
The amendment adds an exception for people who are seeking a temporary transfer of a firearm because they face a risk of domestic violence and imminent threat of bodily harm.
Between 1998 and 2017, the Oklahoma Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board found nearly 1,700 people were killed in the Sooner State because of domestic violence.
“These people deserve to be protected,” Congresswoman Horn said. “H.R. 8 is a critical piece of legislation to cut down on our nation’s widespread gun violence. I am proud to have supported it.”
The measure passed 240-190. Eight Republicans voted for the bill, and two Democrats, Jared Golden of Maine and Collin Peterson of Minnesota, voted against it.
Despite pressure from the House, Senate Republicans are unlikely to take up the legislation, according to a member of Senate leadership.
Majority Whip John Thune — the second ranking Republican in the chamber — told CNN on Tuesday that it’s “unlikely” that the Senate will take up the bill for debate soon.
Thune pointed to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System modernization bill that the Senate approved last year. That legislation — which was sponsored by Republican John Cornyn and Democrat Chris Murphy — improved reporting to the national background check system. In the simplest terms, the bill didn’t strengthen background checks but instead incentivized state and federal authorities to report more data to the database.