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House passes gun control bill expanding background checks to private transfers

Sig Sauer P320 (Christine Peterson/TNS)
March 11, 2021

The House voted in favor of the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 (H.R. 8) with a vote of 227-203 Thursday, passing legislation that would criminalize private gun sales conducted without a background check.

“It shall be unlawful for any person who is not a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer to transfer a firearm to any other person who is not so licensed, unless a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer has first taken possession of the firearm,” H.R. 8 states.

Democrats overwhelmingly supported the bill, with 219 voting in favor of the legislation. Eight Republicans also voted in support of the bill.

The 202 Republicans voting against H.R. 8 were joined by a single Democrat. None of the Representatives responded with “present.”

The National Rifle Association (NRA) warned against the anti-gun measure, claiming 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.”

The House will also vote on the Enhanced Background Checks Act Thursday. Sponsored by South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, H.R. 1446 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.

NSSF Senior Vice President Lawrence Keane said Clyburn’s bill “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.

Keane recommended focusing on adequately resourcing NICS, rather than further burdening retailers and law-abiding gun owners.