Gun Control Legislation: House Passes Sweeping Bill The legislation mandates background checks be performed on all gun sales, including firearm purchases made privately. The Senate is unlikely to take it up.

House Passes Sweeping Gun Bill

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The House had some other business today, too. They passed sweeping legislation aimed at tightening the nation's gun laws. It's the first of two bills backed by House Democrats. Both would strengthen the federal background check system for firearm purchases, but they are expected to fail in the Republican-controlled Senate. NPR's Brakkton Booker has more.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: On this vote, the yeas are 240, and the nays are 190. The bill has passed.

BRAKKTON BOOKER, BYLINE: The passage of the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 was never really in doubt. It had 230 co-sponsors. One of them was freshman Congresswoman Lucy McBath.


LUCY MCBATH: As many of you may know, gun violence is an issue that is deeply personal for me.

BOOKER: The Georgia Democrat's son was killed when a man opened fire on a car full of teenagers in 2012. Changing gun laws is her top priority.


MCBATH: Gun violence prevention and a desire to make meaningful change is the very reason I am here today.

BOOKER: Under current law, only licensed gun dealers have to conduct background checks. The House bill mandates federal background checks be performed on all gun sales. That includes purchases made online and at gun shows. No background checks would be needed for transferring guns between close family members. Despite having five GOP co-sponsors, it got strong pushback from House Republicans, including Doug Collins of Georgia.


DOUG COLLINS: All this legislation will do is burden law-abiding citizens wishing to exercise their Second Amendment rights, including defending themselves from the gun-toting criminals this bill does nothing to combat.

BOOKER: Republicans were able to get one victory - an amendment requiring immigration authorities to be notified when someone in the U.S. illegally tries to buy a gun. But Minority Whip Steve Scalise, who was badly injured by a gunman during a Congressional baseball practice in 2017, still opposed the bill. He says it's exemptions like allowing a friend to borrow a firearm for sport shooting could cause confusion.


STEVE SCALISE: They say there's an exemption in the bill, but it's written so vaguely that you not only need to bring your hunting partner, you might need to bring your attorney to find out if loaning your shotgun to your friend makes you a felon under this bill.

BOOKER: Tomorrow, House Democrats are expected to call a vote on another background check bill. That one calls for firearms dealers to wait at least 10 business days before completing a sale - up from the current three. Neither bill, though, is expected to get through the GOP-controlled Senate. And the White House has already signaled the president would veto the bill passed today if it ever reaches his desk. Brakkton Booker, NPR News, Washington.

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