The House of Representatives passed two measures on Thursday that would further infringe on the Second Amendment-guaranteed rights of Americans. H.R. 8, also known as the “Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021” passed 227-203. H.R. 1446, also known as the “Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021,” passed 219-210.
H.R. 8 passed with eight Republicans — including co-sponsors Peter King (N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Brian Mast (Fla.), Fred Upton (Mich.), and Christopher Smith (N.J.) — voting for the measure and one Democrat, Jared Golden of Maine, voting against it. It was originally brought forth in 2019 and sponsored by Representative Mike Thompson (D-Calif.).
“This bill is a critical step toward preventing gun violence and saving lives,” Thompson said before the bill passed.
According to a summary by the Congressional Research Service, the bill would establish “new background check requirements for firearms transfers between private parties [i.e. unlicensed individuals].”
Another summary of the legislation claims it will “utilize the current background checks process in the United States to ensure individuals prohibited from gun possession are not able to obtain firearms.”
The bill adds a new layer to gun sales — or other transfers of gun ownership — between individuals, as it would necessitate a third party to hold onto the weapon while a background check is conducted. Certain transfers, such as gifts from a spouse, would not be affected.
“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 bill’s summary states.
Some Republicans claim that H.R. 8 would create a de facto “national registry of firearms” and would only serve to further confuse current gun laws.
“The idea that this is going to make us safer is laughable,” said Representative Mary Miller (R-Ill.). “Criminals looking to get their hands on firearms to use in crimes are not going to submit to background checks. Only law-abiding citizens will follow the law. This is a back door means of setting up a national registry of firearms — something I completely oppose.”
Miller added that the problem was not about lax gun laws, but lax enforcement of those laws.
“We need better enforcement — not more laws,” she added. “Instead of passing terrible legislation like H.R. 8, we need to do a better job of providing law enforcement agencies with the resources they need to enforce existing gun laws.”
Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) has already introduced companion legislation — “The Background Check Expansion Act” — in the Senate.
The other bill, H.R. 1446, introduced by Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), passed with two Republicans supporting the measure. This gives federal officials an extra seven days to complete background checks. Currently, a firearms dealer is allowed to transfer a firearm to a buyer after three business days if background-check results have not come through by then; the new legislation would increase that to 10 business days.
“Specifically, it increases the amount of time, from three business days to a minimum of ten business days, that a federal firearms licensee must wait to receive a completed background check prior to transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person,” says a Congressional Research Service Summary.
So, it’s a further infringement on the gun rights of Americans. “H.R. 1446 could ultimately destroy the Second Amendment rights guaranteed to every law-abiding American by turning it into a privilege enjoyed by a select few,” said the National Rifle Association in a statement.
It’s also important to note that these bills do not only concern gun sales but weapons transfers as well. So, if a gun is loaned or gifted to another, the same rules apply.
As the NRA pointed out, “If you loan a gun to a friend without going to the gun store, the penalty is the same as for knowingly selling a gun to a convicted felon. Likewise, when the friend returns the gun, another trip to the gun store is necessary, upon pain of felony.”
Representative Miller noted that these are not bills aimed at keeping weapons from gun-toting criminals. Rather, these are bills designed to inconvenience law-abiding citizens by making gun ownership more difficult. These bills are not about gun-crime abatement; they’re about control.