U.S. House of Representatives Passes Two Bills to Strengthen Gun Control

The United States House of Representatives on March 11 have passed two bills that would strengthen gun control laws, including one that expands background checks on all commercial gun sales and transfers.

“The gun violence crisis in America is a challenge to the conscience of our country — one that demands that we act,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference.

The first bill, H.R. 8 or the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, passed with a vote of 227-203 and would expand background checks on individuals seeking to purchase or transfer firearms in the country.

“Specifically, it prohibits a firearm transfer between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer first takes possession of the firearm to conduct a background check,” the summary of the bill stated.

Representative Mike Thompson described the bill as “a critical step toward preventing gun violence and saving lives.”

The second bill, H.R. 1446 or the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, passed with a vote of 218-210 and would close the “Charleston loophole,” a gap in federal law that allows some licensed gun sales to proceed even before a required background check is finished.

The loophole allowed white supremacist Dylann Roof to legally purchase a firearm in 2015, killing nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

“Specifically, it increases the amount of time, from three business days to a minimum of 10 business days, that a federal firearms licensee must wait to receive a completed background check prior to transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person,” the summary of the bill stated.

The bills face an uncertain future in the Senate where a slim 50-50 Democrat majority would need support from Republicans, who largely remain opposed to any gun control measures.

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