House Judiciary Committee Advances Universal Background Check Bill
A gun enthusiast inspects handguns during the annual National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas, Texas, May 5, 2018. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday evening advanced a bill that would require a background check for all gun sales and most gun transfers, in just one of a number of gun control measures House Democrats have vowed to deliver with their newfound majority.
The “Bipartisan Background Checks Act,” which passed 21-14 along party lines, would extend the background check requirement, which currently only applies to licensed retailers, to unlicensed sellers who conduct private transactions online and at gun shows.
The bill passed Wednesday evening after roughly nine hours of contentious debate that saw Democrats cite the one-year anniversary of the Parkland massacre in an emotional plea for support to their Republican colleagues.
“It happened,” Representative Ted Deutch (D., Fla.), who represents the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School community said of the shooting. “Now, our responsibility is to do everything we can to make sure it never happens again.”
Representative Lucy McBath (D., Ga.), whose son died in a shooting, tearfully cast a vote in favor of the bill.
“For my son Jordan Davis, I vote aye,” she said.
A series of amendments introduced by Republicans, one of which would exempt victims of domestic violence from undergoing a background check before being given a gun by a friend or family member, were soundly rejected.
The bill does, however, allow an exemption for temporary transfers deemed “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm, if the possession by the transferee lasts only as long as immediately necessary to prevent the imminent death or great bodily harm.”
The National Rifle Association, which supported universal background checks for a time following the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, criticized the legislation as a “broadside against lawful firearm ownership in America, setting cruel traps for common and innocent firearm-related conduct.”