House Democrats will unveil a universal background check bill Tuesday to curb gun violence, eight years to the day after former Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot in Arizona.
The bill will require background checks on the sale of any firearm and expand existing background checks for the sale of guns online, at stores and at gun shows. Giffords will join gun control advocates as the bill is introduced by the Democratically-controlled House.
“All the experts agree that this is the piece of legislation that will do the most good and do it most expeditiously,” Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., chair of the Democrats’ Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, told ABC News.
“Our Democratic majority will press relentlessly for bipartisan progress to end the epidemic of gun violence on our streets, in our schools, and in our places of worship,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “Enough is enough.”
“We will make our communities safer and keep our sacred promise to the victims, survivors, and families of gun violence by passing common-sense bipartisan background check legislation,” Pelosi said in a speech to the House last week, the first day of the 116th Congress.
The bill would exclude “reasonable transfers” for guns kept inside the same family.
A handful of Republicans support the bill, including Reps. Peter King of New York, the lead sponsor, and Brian Mast of Florida.
Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Lucy McBath of Georgia made gun control a key part of their campaign. McBath’s son was shot and killed at a gas station in 2012.
“If this weren’t bold and if this was some easy, low-hanging fruit than this would’ve happened before,” Pressley said. “To me, it’s progress. It’s a step in the right direction. We don’t stop pushing for and advocating for those comprehensive fixes that I think will get at this growing scourge.”
The proposed bill doesn’t go as far as many Democrats would like, like banning assault-style rifles and large capacity magazines. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., will introduce a companion bill in the Republican-controlled upper chamber.
The National Rifle Association opposes the bill, saying criminals will never submit to background checks, so it won’t be universal. Plus, too many law-abiding citizens get snagged because of similar names and dates of birth, the group added.
“The NRA opposes this legislation because it does not address the real problems of fixing the broken mental health system and prosecuting criminals,” NRA officials said when Thompson introduced a similar bill in 2015.
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