by Dr. Sonya Lewis
Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives approved two gun safety bills that will substantially expand and strengthen background checks conducted on individuals who seek to purchase firearms. H.R. 8, otherwise known as the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, requires background checks for individuals who purchase firearms from private sellers online or at gun shows. Currently, federal law only requires background checks when individuals purchase firearms from federally licensed firearms dealers. H.R. 1446 will extend the amount of time the FBI may take to complete a background check from three days to ten days. This bill seeks to close the “Charleston Loophole” which enabled a white supremacist to purchase the gun he used to murder nine people at a historically Black South Carolina church in 2015 even though he could not pass a background check.
These bills passed largely along party lines with the majority of Democrats supporting both of them. H.R. 8 was approved by a vote of 227 to 203. Eight Republicans supported this bill while one Democrat voted against it. H.R. 1446 passed by a vote of 219 to 210 with two Republicans voting for the bill and two Democrats voting against it.
Polling has consistently shown that expanded background checks are popular with voters. However, at this time, these bills face an uphill battle in the Senate, where they will need to garner 60 votes to overcome the threat of a legislative filibuster. – New York Times