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HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE PASSES BIPARTISAN BACKGROUND CHECKS ACT & CHARLESTON LOOPHOLE BILL

Feb 13, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 by a vote of 23-15 and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019 by a vote of 21-14.

Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) released the following statement after the markup:

“I am pleased that both H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112 passed out of the Committee today, making them one step closer to passing the U.S. House of Representatives. Although we know the issue of gun violence won’t be fixed overnight, there are steps Congress can and must take to address it. Closing loopholes in the current background check system are long-overdue legislative measures that will help address this national crisis.

“I commend Reps. Mike Thompson and Peter King for their efforts to advance H.R. 8, legislation to require background checks on all firearm sales. Equally, I commend Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn for introducing H.R. 1112, legislation to close the dangerous ‘Charleston loophole,’ a shortcoming in the current law that enables some firearms to be transferred by licensed gun dealers before the required background checks have been completed, which was the case in the tragic hate-crime shooting that took place in 2015 at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

“I am heartened by the mobilization of so many Americans who are making their voices heard and advocating for passage of legislation to prevent gun violence.  Both of the bills passed out of the Committee today tackle real problems within our current system.

“I am disappointed that the day before the anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee chose to obstruct and stall the markup of critical bipartisan gun violence prevention legislation for 11 hours by offering non-germane amendments. It is my hope that as we move forward, that they will choose the health and safety of Americans over political charades.

“Nonetheless, I am proud we are taking this first step of passing bipartisan background check legislation and look forward to continuing to make good on our promise to help end gun violence in America.”

BACKGROUND: Under current law, background checks are conducted by licensed gun dealers only. Unlicensed sellers do not have to conduct a background check, even if the seller sells a large number of guns. 

H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, would make it illegal for any person who is not a licensed firearm importer, manufacturer, or dealer to transfer a firearm to any other person who is not licensed, without a background check. The bill also provides a number of exemptions to this requirement, including gifts to family members and transfers for hunting, target shooting, and self-defense. 

H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, addresses a loophole that contributed to the tragic hate-crime murder of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. The shooter was not legally allowed to possess a firearm as a result of drug charges, but he still was able to purchase his gun from a licensed dealer, who made the decision to transfer after three business days had elapsed, despite not having received a definitive response from the background check system.

Read Chairman Nadler’s full statement on H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 here.

Read Chairman Nadler’s full statement on H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act here.

Issues: 
116th Congress