Eight Republicans side with Dems on background checks for gun sales

Eight Republicans side with Dems on background checks for gun sales
© Greg Nash
Eight House Republicans voted with Democrats on Wednesday to support legislation that would require universal background checks for gun sales, despite opposition from the gun lobby.
 
Nearly all the Republicans who broke with their party are centrists, including several who represent competitive swing districts.
 
The number of GOP defectors was only slightly higher than the five Republicans who had signed on as co-sponsors to the legislation.
 
Those five are Rep. Pete KingPeter (Pete) KingCheney clashes with Trump Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney On The Money: 3 million more Americans file for unemployment benefits | Sanders calls for Senate to 'improve' House Democrats' coronavirus bill | Less than 40 percent of small businesses have received emergency coronavirus loans MORE (N.Y.), who co-authored the bill with Rep. Mike ThompsonCharles (Mike) Michael ThompsonHouse Democrats unveil green tax package The Hill's Coronavirus Report: BIO's Michelle McMurry-Heath says 400 projects started in 16 weeks in biotech firms to fight virus, pandemic unemployment total tops 43 million Gun control group rolls out House endorsements MORE (D-Calif.), as well as Reps. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickKaren Bass's star rises after leading police reform push The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - States are pausing reopening Democrats release bilingual ads on police reform bill MORE (Pa.), Brian MastBrian Jeffrey MastDemocrats start cracking down on masks for lawmakers House Republicans push back against proxy voting GOP lawmakers consider returning to DC despite coronavirus shutdown MORE (Fla.), Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonGOP lawmaker: Refusal to wear masks is 'tragic' The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Teachers' union President Randi Weingarten calls Trump administration plan to reopen schools 'a train wreck'; US surpasses 3 million COVID-19 cases Karen Bass's star rises after leading police reform push MORE (Mich.) and Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithNew Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Republican Rep. Chris Smith easily wins primary in New Jersey NY, NJ lawmakers call for more aid to help fight coronavirus MORE (N.J.).
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But three more Republicans joined them in supporting final passage of the measure Wednesday: Reps. Vern BuchananVernon Gale BuchananMORE (Fla.), Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartPelosi asks House chairs to enforce mandatory mask-wearing during hearings House GOP lawmaker tests positive for COVID-19 The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Association of American Railroads Ian Jefferies says no place for hate, racism or bigotry in rail industry or society; Trump declares victory in response to promising jobs report MORE (Fla.) and Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Key impeachment witness retires | Duckworth presses for information | Subpanel advances defense measure | Democrats press for end to military transgender ban Karen Bass's star rises after leading police reform push The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - States are pausing reopening MORE (Texas).
 
“Our laws cannot be effective if there are gaping loopholes that allow criminals and deranged individuals to purchase firearms at gun shows or over the Internet without being subject to background checks. Today I voted for HR 8 to close these loopholes - a proposal supported by over 90 percent of gun owners in America, according to respected polling organizations," Buchanan said in a statement, according to a local ABC affiliate.
 
The legislation would require universal background checks for gun sales, including at gun shows and in private online transactions. Current law only requires licensed firearms dealers to conduct background checks before making a sale.
 
But it does carve out exemptions for certain circumstances, including transfers between family members, use in hunting, and when "necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm," such as domestic violence.
 
 
Democrats also plan to target King, Mast and Upton in 2020, while Smith, Buchanan and Diaz-Balart are considered to represent safe GOP seats.
 
Mast won reelection last November by 9 points. He has gone beyond supporting an expansion of the background check to a more stringent gun control measure: an assault weapons ban.
 
Mast, an Army veteran who lost both his legs while serving in Afghanistan, wrote in a New York Times op-ed after last year's shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., "I cannot support the primary weapon I used to defend our people being used to kill children I swore to defend."
 
On the other side of the aisle, only two Democrats voted against the universal background checks bill: Reps. Jared Golden (Maine) and Collin PetersonCollin Clark PetersonHouse approves statehood for DC in 232-180 vote House to pass sweeping police reform legislation From farmers to grocery store clerks, thank you to all of our food system MORE (Minn.).
 
 
Golden, a freshman, said he opposed the legislation because it's similar to a ballot initiative that Maine voters rejected in 2016.
 
"Maine isn’t Chicago, Washington, or New York. For many of my constituents, access to firearms is a necessary part of daily life and we have a tradition of responsible gun ownership," Golden said in a statement. 
 
“To keep firearms out of the hands of criminal offenders, we need to strictly enforce the background check system already in place and provide it with the resources necessary to work," he added.
 
The House approved the background check legislation in a vote of 240-190 on Wednesday. Before the final vote, Republicans in the minority won on a procedural vote that added language to the bill requiring U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be notified when immigrants who don't have legal status attempt to purchase a firearm.