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Politics Congress renews gun safety push with background check bills

22:42  03 march  2021
22:42  03 march  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

Biden promised quick action on guns. The pandemic has scrambled that.

  Biden promised quick action on guns. The pandemic has scrambled that. Biden’s movement on guns has, so far, been more meetings that action.Among the executive actions under consideration by the administration is one that would require buyers of so-called ghost guns — homemade or makeshift firearms that lack serial numbers — to undergo background checks, according to three people who have spoken to the White House about their plans.

This story was published in partnership with The 19th, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom reporting on gender, politics and policy.

Gun sales have skyrocketed in the United States since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. As of the end of November, 35.4 million firearm background checks had been completed since the start of the year, more than in any other full year since state by state tracking began in 1998. © Spencer Platt / Getty Images News via Getty Images Gun sales have skyrocketed in the United States since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. As of the end of November, 35.4 million firearm background checks had been completed since the start of the year, more than in any other full year since state by state tracking began in 1998.

Congressional lawmakers this week revived an effort to enact significant gun safety laws for the first time in more than 25 years by introducing bills to establish a universal background check system that has broad support from the public.

Biden's 'commonsense' gun law reforms make no sense

  Biden's 'commonsense' gun law reforms make no sense The Biden administration has started the long-promised march toward disarmament. “I am calling on Congress … to enact commonsense gun law reforms, including … banning assault weapons,” wrote President Biden in a statement last month. © Provided by Washington Examiner The enemies of the Second Amendment and individual freedom are moving quickly with their legislative majorities to ban undefined “assault weapons” under the guise of ambiguous “commonsense” reform. What does “common sense" mean? As it turns out, it means nothing, but it has the power to encompass everything.

The bills introduced Tuesday in the House and Senate would extend current federal background check requirements to transactions conducted by unlicensed and private sellers.

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The gun safety group Giffords estimates that 22% of U.S. gun owners purchased their last firearm without completing a background check. Polling shows that more than 90% of Americans support a universal background check system.

The measures are what gun safety advocates predicted would be a first step in pursuing new gun laws now that Democrats control the White House and both chambers of Congress. In recent years, gun safety bills stalled even when they had bipartisan public support, in part because Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not bring them up for votes when he led the Senate from 2015 to 2021.

GOP state lawmakers seek to nullify federal gun limits

  GOP state lawmakers seek to nullify federal gun limits SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — With Democrats controlling the presidency and Congress, Republican state lawmakers concerned about the possibility of new federal gun control laws aren't waiting to react.

Critics of the National Rifle Association say the powerful gun rights lobbying organization, which has nearly exclusively financed Republican candidates in recent election cycles, is one reason party leaders have been hesitant to hold votes on gun legislation.

Rep. Mike Thompson, a California Democrat who chairs a congressional gun violence prevention task force, on Tuesday reintroduced bipartisan House legislation that would require background checks for all firearm sales. The House first passed the bill in 2019, one year after a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, left 17 dead.

Thompson’s Democratic co-sponsors are Reps. Jerrold Nadler of New York, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, Robin Kelly of Illinois and Lucy McBath of Georgia. Republican co-sponsors are Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, Christopher Smith of New Jersey and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.

How Joe Biden's Gun Control Plan Compares to Joe Manchin's Views

  How Joe Biden's Gun Control Plan Compares to Joe Manchin's Views Manchin received a 'D' rating from the NRA during his 2018 campaign and the gun rights group endorsed his opponent.A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing forward a bill that would require background checks for all gun purchases. The same bill was staled in the Senate in 2019.

“Time and time again, we have seen that the American people want universal background checks, in fact public polling shows that the majority of people, Democrats, Republicans and independents, support this,” Thompson said in a statement.

In the Senate, the bill was reintroduced by Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut, where in 2012 a mass shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School killed 26 others, including 20 young children. Murphy was joined by 43 other senators — 42 Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who caucuses with them.

The Senate is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, and the measure would have to pick up bipartisan support to pass that chamber given that most legislation must clear a 60-vote threshold.

“This Congress we will finally bring common sense gun reforms up for a vote in the House and the Senate, and the single most popular and effective proposal we can consider is universal background checks,” Murphy said in a video about the effort.

When the House passed background checks legislation in 2019, the bill ran aground in the then-Republican-controlled Senate, where McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, did not bring it up for a vote.

U.S. House set to vote on bills to expand gun background checks

  U.S. House set to vote on bills to expand gun background checks U.S. House set to vote on bills to expand gun background checksThe House Rules Committee on Monday will take up the two bills that Democrats, who control the chamber, say are aimed at closing loopholes in the background check system.

“Now, with Senate Democrats in the Majority, we have the opportunity to act on this overwhelmingly popular, lifesaving legislation to protect American communities,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement on the bill’s introduction.

Advocates for new gun safety laws have hoped that with President Joe Biden in the White House and Democrats controlling the House and Senate, there is an opportunity for action. The NRA is also grappling with multiple crises: New York’s attorney general is investigating whether its leaders misappropriated more than $60 million for personal use, and the NRA filed for bankruptcy in January. Its remaining officials insist the organization remains solvent, and it plans to reincorporate in Texas.

Shannon Watts sitting on a table: Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. © Viorel Florescu/Nothjersey.com, Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action.

“This is the moment,” said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, a grassroots organization started in late 2012 that now has nearly 6 million supporters.

“We have a trifecta and they have a mandate to act on this. We have a grassroots army to support them and the NRA is weaker than they’ve ever been,” she added.

Already this week, Rep. Jim Clyburn, a key Biden ally from South Carolina, reintroduced a bill that would close the so-called “Charleston loophole” that allows firearm purchases to move forward after three business days, even if a background check has not been completed. It is named for the 2015 mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where nine died after the gunman was able to purchase a firearm when the three-day window expired.

House opens debate on dual gun control bills

  House opens debate on dual gun control bills The House Tuesday began debating legislation to expand firearm background checks in what the party hopes will become the first new gun control laws in decades. © Provided by Washington Examiner The House will vote on the bill Wednesday, and it is poised to pass legislation to expand background checks and a bill that would extend the window to conduct background checks on firearm purchases. Democrats passed both bills in 2019, but the GOP-led Senate ignored the legislation. Now, Democrats control the Senate, House, and White House and are making a new effort to push the two measures into law.

Last month, to mark the third anniversary of the Parkland shooting, Biden called for the passage of  “common sense” gun safety laws. He cited a background checks bill among his top priorities.

The last major law passed to curb gun violence was the Federal Assault Weapons Ban enacted by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1994. But even that had a 10-year sunset provision that has since expired. Several attempts to renew it, including by President Barack Obama in 2013 after Sandy Hook, all derailed in a Republican-controlled Senate.

Groups pushing for gun safety measures told The 19th earlier this year that a background check bill would probably be the starting point early in the Biden administration because it has broader bipartisan support than other measures. President Donald Trump acknowledged in 2019 that there was a “great appetite” for such a proposal after mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, as did McConnell, though he did not go on to bring it up for a vote.

A “red flag” bill giving courts the power to temporarily confiscate firearms from individuals deemed at risk or anti-gun trafficking legislation could be taken up next, the advocates said.

Biden advisers Susan Rice and Cedric Richmond met last month with gun safety groups that included Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, Giffords and Brady to discuss background checks, the proliferation of so-called “ghost” guns (homemade firearms or those with serial numbers removed) and violence intervention programs, the White House said.

Biden has also pledged to work with Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which he worked on as a senator in the 1990s. In 2019, the House approved a VAWA provision to close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” that allows current and former unmarried partners convicted of abuse and stalking to continue to purchase firearms. That effort also stalled in the Senate. Democratic House leaders said this week they will be taking up VAWA reauthorization later this month.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Congress renews gun safety push with background check bills

House passes bill expanding background checks for gun sales .
H.R. 8 requires a background check for sale or transfer of a firearm by private individuals and closes the 'Gun Show Loophole.'"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.

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