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Gun background check bill may lead to federal gun registry

Row of handguns. (US Coast Guard Academy/Released)
February 15, 2019

The most substantial gun measure to go before the House Judiciary Committee passed on Wednesday and, if passed by Congress in full, could pave the way for the creation of a federal gun registry that Democrats have supported in the past.

The bill is now headed to the House floor for a vote, while little is known about how it could be enforced.

The measure, which underwent nine hours of deliberation in the committee before being passed by a 21-14 vote, would require federal background checks for private gun purchases in the U.S., according to the Washington Post.

Democratic House Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries said, “The Department of Justice and the FBI will have primary responsibility for enforcing the requirements that we hope will be enacted into law consistent with the values of the overwhelming majority of the American people,” according to the Daily Caller.

How the law will be enforced is not yet clear.

One aspect of enforcement is suspected to be a national gun registry, afforded by the powers authorized to the Attorney General and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in order to track recorded owners of a gun.

“That sounds to me like a registry is a possibility if you have an Attorney General that wants one,” said Republican Rep. Richard Hudson.

Democrat Sen. Cedric Richmond, who is on the House Judiciary Committee, said he would like to see a federal gun registry.

“I would not mind seeing a gun registry. I really wouldn’t. I think I filed that bill when I was in the Louisiana legislature. I think I filed a registry. I think I filed ballistic fingerprints and assault weapons ban. So, I’m at the other end of the spectrum. I don’t mind,” he said.

The background check bill one of the first lines of business that the Democrats have conducted since taking control of the House. Five Republicans also voted in favor of the bill.

The committee also voted 23-15 to tighten the gap in the existing background check law that permits the purchase of a firearm if a background check is not completed with 72 hours.

Members also introduced a separate bill that would prohibit high-capacity gun magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

The push by Democrats comes as the nation remembers the Parkland, Fla. shooting that killed 17, one year ago on Feb. 14.

A moment of silence was held on the House floor during the committee vote.