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Gun violence prevention groups optimistic background check legislation can pass this Congress

Gun violence prevention groups hailed this Congress as the best chance for background check legislation to pass. 

Democrats reintroduced legislation to expand federal background checks on all gun sales on Tuesday and groups like March for Our Lives and Moms Demand Action said they were optimistic about action that’s been stalled for years. 

“This is a huge moment for our movement, we are on the precipice of finally addressing a crisis that has killed millions of Americans,” Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, said on a press call.

Advocates noted that there is a “gun sense trifecta” in Washington, referring to the Democratic-led House, Senate and White House. President Biden recently met with gun violence prevention groups and the White House has said he is personally committed to action on gun control.

“There’s never been a better time for federal action on gun safety,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. He added that background check legislation is “unfinished business” for Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). 

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) reintroduced the Background Checks Expansion Act, which would require unlicensed or private sellers to conduct a background check prior to transferring a firearm.

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) reintroduced the companion legislation in the House. Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) also introduced legislation on Monday that would give federal investigators more time to do background checks and close the so-called Charleston loophole.

“Passing this legislation is the bare minimum. It’s the first step in comprehensive action. It’s embarrassing that it’s taken this long in the United States to pass commonsense gun legislation. It should not be the case that for as long as I’ve been alive, this country has not seen a single chance to its gun laws,” said Max Markham, policy director at March For Our Lives.

The Democratic-led House last Congress passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act in February 2019. The bill never received votes in the GOP-controlled Senate. 

“Its been about getting a vote in the first place. What we know is gun safety legislation in recent times that has passed the House has just gathered dust on [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell’s desk. I think that that has been the biggest obstacle,” Feinblatt said.

While Democrats control the House, background check legislation still faces an uphill battle in the Senate and would require at least 10 Republican senators to support it to overcome the legislative filibuster.

“Right now, the Biden Harris administration and with this Congress, we have our best chance to pass these kinds of commonsense fixes, better than we had in a decade,” said Kris Brown, president of Brady.

A bill proposed by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) in 2013 after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 26 people only garnered 54 votes. Watts though said that with the rise of the gun control prevention movement, any politician who stands in the way of gun control legislation does so at their own political peril.

“I can assure you that the world looks so much different today,” Watts said.

Tags Charles Schumer Chris Murphy Everytown Everytown for Gun Safety Gun politics in the United States gun violence Guns Joe Biden Joe Manchin Mike Thompson Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Pat Toomey Sandy Hook
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