Joe Biden’s gun control agenda is moving forward, and anti-gun groups are hopeful the new universal background check bill is only the beginning.
House Democrats were joined by three Republicans this week in introducing legislation that will ban the private transfers of firearms between anyone who is not immediately related.
Rep. James E. Clyburn also introduced a bill that would close the so-called “Charleston Loophole” by eliminating the policy that a firearm can be transferred to an individual if the FBI has not completed a background check within three days.
In a conference call with reporters, representatives from Everytown, Moms Demand Action, and other anti-gun groups emphasized that this legislation is only a “first step” to achieving their no-gun utopia.
“While the fixes in these bills can’t solve the entire epidemic of gun violence, they are a critical first step,” said Kris Brown, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Gregory Jackson Jr., the National Advocacy Director at Community Justice Action Fund, reiterated Brown’s “first step” language.
“While we’re excited about this step forward… we see this as a first step. A first step towards a comprehensive solution that will address the gun violence in our communities,” he said. “We remain committed to holding [Congress] accountable and to advocate for additional steps to address this crisis.”
The full text of the background check bill has yet to be released, but if it copies the bill that passed the House last year, it bans private sales entirely and only allows “bona fide gifts” between spouses, domestic partners, parents and their children (including step-parents and their step-children), siblings, aunts or uncles and their nieces or nephews, or grandparents and their grandchildren.
However, even those bona fide gifts are allowed only if “the transferor has no reason to believe that the transferee will use or intends to use the firearm in a crime or is prohibited from possessing firearms under State or Federal law.”
Rep. Clyburn’s background check bill gives the FBI a full 10 business days to complete a background check that has been delayed. Once those 10 days are up, a prospective buyer can petition for “escalated review to spur the FBI to complete its investigation,” according to a press release.
The sale may proceed if the escalated review has not been completed within an additional 10 business days, allowing the FBI to delay without reason a person’s Second Amendment rights for a full four weeks.
Gun rights groups have blasted Clyburn’s bill as an infringement on the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.
“This bill increases the burden on small business firearm retailer owners and flips the burden of proof on its head,” said Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
“This would make it incumbent upon the law-abiding citizen to prove his or her innocence to the government to exercise their Second Amendment right to purchase a firearm instead of the government being responsible for proving an individual is prohibited. This could potentially deny a law-abiding citizen their rights for up to a month, while they are saddled with the burden of proving their innocence. That’s un-American.”
While both bills are likely to pass the Democrat-controlled House, the Senate will be a larger hurdle. Representatives for anti-gun groups insisted to reporters that their historic failures in the Senate can be blamed on Sen. Mitch McConnell refusing to bring gun controls bills up for a vote. Since majority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer is sure to vote on these bills, Everytown and others believe they may be able to pass.
But to overcome the filibuster, Democrats will need at least 10 Republicans to join them in support of these bills, a difficult obstacle in the hyper-partisan climate of Capitol Hill.