The House Passes Gun Control Legislation & That’s Its First Big Move In 2 Decades

By Monica Busch
Joshua Roberts/Getty Images News/Getty Images

On Wednesday, members of the House passed two major gun control bills that aim to enforce mandatory background checks for firearms sales. The legislative package has been billed as the most comprehensive gun control package to move forward in over two decades, according to NPR.

It's not clear what will happen to the bills when they reach the Senate. Democrats are hopeful that the bills' easy House passage will pressure senators to put it up to a vote. It's unlikely that President Donald Trump would sign it into law, according to the Associated Press.

The bills would require background checks on virtually all gun sales, effectively closing the so-called "gun show loophole." Polls have long suggested that the majority of Americans support such a measure.

Background checks keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them," Rep. Val Demings said in a press release following the measure's passing. "Closing the loopholes in our background check system is common sense, and more than 90% of Americans—including gun owners—agree. This much-needed bill should be embraced by both Democrats and Republicans."

The measure included two separate bills: The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (HR 8) and The Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019 (HR 1112).

Democratic representatives took to Twitter shortly afterward to celebrate their accomplishment. Many said that they were proud to have supported the would-be legislation.

"Nearly 40,000 Americans died in 2017 as a result of gun violence," tweeted Rep. Barbara Lee. "That’s not a pattern—that’s an epidemic. The House just passed #HR8 to start getting commonsense, bipartisan solutions in place."

Eight Republicans the initiative, according to USA Today. And in light of that support, some proponents characterized the move as a bipartisan effort.

Republicans were also successfully able to pass an amendment to the bill, which, per USA Today, would require Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be notified if an undocumented immigrant failed a background check because of their status. And 26 Democrats ultimately supported that amendment, according to multiple reports.

“It’s a surprise, but it’s not to eclipse a tremendous victory today,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of the amendment, according to The Washington Post.

Indeed, Pelosi appeared undeterred while addressing the House floor. “We’re grateful, again, to the young people, parents, survivors across America who have told their stories, marched for their lives and demanded change," she said, per the Post. "This bill delivers that change: ensuring that people who are a danger to themselves and others cannot purchase a gun and perpetuate violence in our communities."

The bill would require background checks for most gun purchases, but does include a few exemptions, like when guns are given as gifts among family members. Temporary borrowing a gun when in serious danger would also be allowed, according to The New York Times.

Even with the Republican-backed amendment, it remains unclear whether the Senate will ever take up the initiative. Republicans are, by and large, against increased gun control measures. And even though a few Republicans supported the House's version of the bill, the vote was still, according to reports, mostly split along party lines.