By Felecia Pohl
WASHINGTON — Lawmakers are debating the implications of two new gun-control bills being introduced this week in the House of Representatives.
Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) said both bills would lower the number of people who shouldn’t have guns from getting them.
“Over ninety percent of American people believe we should pass universal background checks,” Thompson said at a news conference on Tuesday.
H.R.8, which goes to vote in the House this week, would mandate background checks for all firearm sales — not just those at gun shops. This includes gun shows and online sales.
H.R.1112, also up for vote this week, would lengthen the background check period from 3 days to 10. If the check isn’t completed after 10 days, the potential buyer can file a new request. If there is no completion after that, the sale can go through.
Thompson said the argument that only law-abiding citizens go through background checks is untrue. “One hundred and seventy felons every day are turned down because they’re prohibited when they try to buy a gun. Fifty domestic abusers every day are refused the sale of a firearm because they’re prohibited. We know that background checks work,” he said.
But Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) said at a different news conference Tuesday that not a single mass shooting would have been prevented if these bills were in effect. He said that both the Pulse nightclub and Parkland school mass shootings in his home state of Florida were committed by gunmen who had passed background checks.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who was shot and seriously injured when James Thomas Hodgkinson opened fire at a Congressional baseball game practice in June 2017, also said that these bills “would make criminals out of law-abiding citizens.” Scalise also said the legislation would bring the nation one step closer toward federalized gun registration, and not the last step toward true gun control.
But according to Thompson, there are provisions in the bill that prevent a national registration.
“Nothing in the bill can be used to create a national registration,” he said. “I know the politics of it. I know they put out the buzzwords. I know [they’re] trying to frighten the American people, but it’s malarkey. It’s just not going to work. We’re not here to create a national registry. We’re here to create a first line of defense so people who shouldn’t have guns don’t have access to guns.”
Democrat Rep. Jason Crow said his state of Colorado knows gun violence all too well.
“From Columbine to Aurora, years apart but only miles away, our community has been ripped apart by gun violence,” he said, referring to mass shootings in the state that occurred in 1999 at a high school and 2012 at a movie theater, respectively. “Those who fail to support common sense gun violence prevention are failing their communities and neglecting their duty. Our children cannot pay the price for our inaction any longer.”
While the bills might have a change to pass in the House, it is unlikely either will get the majority support in the Senate to pass.