Background Check Bill Unveiling Kicks Off Gun Control Push (1)

  • Introduced in House again with bipartisan support
  • Needs 10 GOP Senate supporters to reach Biden’s desk

(Updates sixth paragraph with new details on when the House will vote on the bill)

A background check bill Democrats pegged as their best hope to pass gun-control legislation was reintroduced Tuesday, kicking off a push to garner enough Republican support in the Senate for it to become law.

The legislation being introduced in the House (H.R. 8) and Senate has few changes from when it was last introduced two years ago. It expands background checks to cover all sales, including those at gun shows and online, but it doesn’t include transfers within a family.

The House passed the bill in 2019, with eight Republicans supporting it and two Democrats opposed. So far, the bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) has three Republican sponsors: Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.).

In an interview, Thompson said he hopes President Joe Biden’s influence can bring the bill across the finish line.

“He knows the issue, he’s good on the issue, and he’s got great relationships in the Senate,” Thompson said ahead of the bill’s unveiling. “I’m hopeful that he will be able to use those relationships to help us in the Senate with this bill.”

The House plans to vote on the bill next week, according to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

Photo by Al Drago/Bloomberg
Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) at the January 2019 unveiling of legislation to expand background checks for sales of firearms.

Read More: Gun Control Bills Being Prepped for Rollout in Divided Congress

Pelosi mentioned Thompson’s bill in a statement last month on how the House would move to strengthen gun control provisions, and Biden called on Congress to pass several specific measures on gun control including universal background checks.

The Democrat-controlled House is likely to pass the bill, but it will need at least 10 GOP votes in the Senate to reach Biden’s desk and become law. The last time a measure on background checks was brought to the Senate floor, in 2015, it fell short of the needed 60 votes to clear a filibuster.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who will introduce the companion bill in the Senate, said Biden’s win showed that “this is the year to get this bill passed into law.”

“I look forward to working across the aisle to get background checks legislation across the finish line,” he said.

Murphy’s bill might not be the only one considered. Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) previously co-sponsored legislation expanding background checks, and have continued to work on the issue.

Thompson said he hopes Republicans feel slightly more pressure to vote for the bill this time around after losing the White House and Senate in the last election and failing to capture the House.

“They need to start looking at things that would put them in a better place for the American people,” he said.

Everytown for Gun Safety advocates for universal background checks and other gun control measures. Michael Bloomberg is the majority owner of Bloomberg Government’s parent company and serves as a member of Everytown’s advisory board.

To contact the reporter on this story: Emily Wilkins in Washington at ewilkins@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kyle Trygstad at ktrygstad@bgov.com; Heather Rothman at hrothman@bgov.com

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