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Biden admin urges Congress to pass anti-gun bills criminalizing private sales and extending FBI holds

President Joe Biden signs executive orders, Jan. 28, 2021, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)
March 09, 2021

President Joe Biden’s administration released a statement Monday pressuring lawmakers in Congress to pass two gun control bills that would extend FBI holds and criminalize private gun sales. Both are up for a vote on Wednesday.

The administration is pushing for Congress to pass the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021 and the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, which were both introduced in the House last month.

“Gun violence is a public health crisis. Every day, gun violence – community violence, domestic violence, suicides, and mass shootings – takes American lives and forever alters many more. Last year, we saw record levels of homicides in cities throughout our country, violence that disproportionately impacts Black and Latino communities,” the statement read.

Rep. Mike Thompson’s Bipartisan Background Checks Act would criminalize private gun sales, making even transactions between family members illegal. Instead, a gun-owner seeking to sell his firearm would first require government permission.

The Enhanced Background Checks Act, sponsored by South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, would allow the FBI to put a hold on transferring a firearm for up to 30 days, rather than the three days currently allowed by law.

“The Federal gun background check system is a proven tool to reduce gun violence and save lives. This system, called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, has kept millions of guns out of potentially dangerous hands,” the Biden administration’s statement said.

“The Administration encourages the House to pass two bills that would help close existing loopholes in this system: H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, and H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021,” it continued. “The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to strengthen the Federal gun background check system and take other commonsense steps to reduce gun violence.”

Both the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) warned against the proposed legislation, with NSSF Senior Vice President Lawrence Keane condemning the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021.

“This bill increases the burden on small business firearm retailer owners and flips the burden of proof on its head. This would make it incumbent upon the law-abiding citizen to prove his or her innocence to the government to exercise their Second Amendment right to purchase a firearm instead of the government being responsible for proving an individual is prohibited. This could potentially deny a law-abiding citizen their rights for up to a month, while they are saddled with the burden of proving their innocence. That’s un-American,” Keane said.

The NRA claims a universal background check system would act as a gun owner registry.

“NICS would become a gun owner registry if all firearms transfers were subject to NICS checks and the FBI retained records of approved checks indefinitely, both of which gun control supporters have proposed,” the NRA’s website states. “Such records would include information currently maintained on federal Form 4473, documenting the identity of the firearm purchaser and the make, model and serial number of the firearm transferred.”

The NRA continued, “Over time, as people sell or bequeath their firearms, a registry of firearm transfers would become a registry of gun owners.”