House Democrats are proposing basic background checks for gun purchases — which even most Republican voters support.
House Republicans are attacking proposed legislation on background checks for firearms purchases as a scheme to "take away your guns," as Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson put it.
But polls show even most GOP voters back universal background checks.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on two gun safety proposals: H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would require background checks for most gun transfers, and H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, which would ensure that the FBI has sufficient time to complete the checks.
"First, they defunded the police. Next, they're going to come for your guns," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted Thursday. "The Democrat agenda, ladies and gentlemen."
"This week?" Minority Whip Steve Scalise wrote Sunday. "[House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi is coming for your gun rights."
Other GOP House members echoed their leaders' hyperbolic slippery slope language.
"Sitting behind razor wire fences with THOUSANDS of armed troops protecting them, Democrats want to take away your RIGHT to protect yourself," tweeted Jackson. "They won't stop until it's illegal for ANYONE to own a firearm, and until they make criminals out of EVERY law abiding gun owner."
And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia tweeted a "GUN CONTROL ALERT" on Monday, inaccurately claiming, "HR 8 would create a national gun registry, which we all know is the first step towards 'mandatory buybacks' aka confiscation" and "HR 1446 would create a nationwide 'waiting period' delaying your access to a gun to defend yourself and your family."
In reality, these proposals would do none of that.
H.R. 1446 would give the FBI an extra week to complete background checks in the rare instances — less than 4% of the time — when a background check cannot be completed within the current three-day timeframe. This aims to close a loophole that allowed the white supremacist who slaughtered nine people in 2015 at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, to get a gun.
H.R. 8 would require background checks for nearly all gun purchases and transfers, even if they are done as a private sale, such as at a gun show. This would close a loophole that has allowed many people not legally permitted to buy a gun to do so without a background check, including the gunman who killed seven people and injured more than 20 in a Walmart in Odessa, Texas, in 2019.
Nothing in either bill creates a national gun registry or would infringe on the right to bear arms for anyone who is legally able to buy a gun now, both false claims that have been made about virtually all proposed gun safety legislation in the past.
Despite the GOP's dishonest fearmongering, poll after poll has shown widespread support for universal background checks — even among GOP voters.
A Gallup poll in March 2018 found 92% support for background checks for all gun purchases, with just 7% opposed.
A Quinnipiac University survey in September 2019 found 83% support, including 71% among Republicans.
While they are likely to pass again this week in the House, they will face an uphill battle in the Senate, where the GOP minority can currently block them via filibuster.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.