Today, while the media was distracting the public with the Michael Cohen hearing, the 116th Congress was passing the Bipartisan Backgrounds Check Act of 2019. Sponsored by rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA-5), and introduced on January 8, 2019, the bill passes by a vote of 240-190.
According to Sec. 2 Purpose, “The purpose of this Act is to utilize the current background checks process in the United States to ensure individuals prohibited from gun possession are not able to obtain firearms.” Although Sec 2. states its purpose is to keep individuals prohibited from gun possession “from legally obtaining a firearm”, Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), introduced an amendment that requires ICE be notified if an illegal immigrant tries to purchase a firearm. The amendment was passed by a simple voice vote.
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), made the claim that “the problem we have in this country is that the law also allows unlicensed firearm dealers competing with licensed firearm dealers to sell just as many firearms as a licensed firearm dealer, but without dong the background check”. Also saying that it contributes to persons not allowed a firearm to have access. According to ATF.org the Federal Gun Control Act “requires that persons who are engaged in the business of dealing in firearms be licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). This is a direct contradiction to Johnsons claims that unlicensed dealers can compete with licensed firearms dealers. With regard to gun ownership transfers, federal law states “All persons who transfer firearms, regardless of whether they are engaged in the business of dealing in firearms, must ensure that any transfers are in compliance with federal, state, and local laws. Currently, less that 1% of convicted felons get guns from licensed dealers.
Rep. Scalise (R-LA), rose in strong opposition to the legislation, stating “We (Republicans) had identified a number of problems with this bill that we were trying to improve, and every one of those was shutout by the democrat majority who wanted to try to stifle the debate.” Scalise and other Republicans feel that under the new legislation, merely loaning your gun to a friend to try out at a shooting range, or a hunting expedition without the gun owner on site would lead to said gun owner being a felon subject to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Scalise also pointed out that under the two new pieces of legislation, one of which will be voted on tomorrow, a woman involved in a domestic violence situation with a temporary restraining order against the offender, would have to wait up to 20 days before receiving permission to purchase a firearm. Legislation to fix the issue was also denied being put into the Act by Democrats.
Current estimates are that 22% of current gun owners purchased their guns without a background check. Latest data shows that 19 states have policies for extended background checks. 6 states cover handguns only and 13 states cover all guns. Gary Martin, who recently killed 5 coworkers in Aurora, Illinois had an extensive criminal record and was not legally allowed to purchase a firearm, but he was able to. Democrats are quick to condemn law enforcement for officer involved shootings, but never when the legal system fails to identify and appropriately deal with those prohibited from purchasing a firearm according to the laws already in place.