A coalition of 152 mayors from around the country this week called on the U.S. Senate to expand the background check system.
“Americans are increasingly alarmed by mass shootings and by the steady increase in homicides and shootings plaguing too many neighborhoods,” they, members of the United Conference of Mayors, wrote in a letter dated April 13, 2021 (see below).
“As mayors, it is our top priority to ensure public safety; protecting our residents from gun violence is at the very heart of this commitment,” they continued. “It is time for our federal partners in Congress to take long overdue action to reduce gun violence and the terrible toll it takes on our cities and in our nation.”
H.R. 8 would criminalize private transfers.
With few exceptions, individuals would be prohibited from transferring a firearm to one another unless a licensed gun dealer (FFL), manufacturer, or importer first took possession of the firearm and conducted a background check on the prospective transferee.
Along with the time it takes to travel to a gun shop, fees would apply as FFLs typically charge for their services.
H.R. 1446 would make law-abiding citizens wait as long as 20 business days before they’d be allowed to take possession of a firearm during a “default proceed” transaction.
Currently, if a prospective purchaser receives a “delay” response from the ATF’s background check system, FFLs must wait three days to give the federal government more time to investigate the individual.
After three days, if the government has not finished the investigation, the FFL may transfer the firearm to the prospective purchaser as a “default proceed” transaction. The three-day window is designed to protect the 2A rights of the individual and to keep the government from dragging its feet.
After all, in a digital age, it stands to reason that a background check to exercise a fundamental right shouldn’t take three business days, let alone 20!
But the mayors who signed onto the letter believe these bills do not infringe on the 2A rights of law-abiding citizens.
“We believe that HR 8 and HR 1446 are sensible gun safety bills that will make our cities safer and in no way compromise gun owners’ rights,” wrote the mayors. “The nation’s mayors call upon you to pass them now.”
Democrats in the Senate would need 60 votes to override a Republican filibuster on H.R. 8 or H.R. 1446. It doesn’t appear that they have those numbers right now. The Senate is split 50-50 between the GOP and the DNC, with the Dems having the tie-breaker via Vice President Kamala Harris.
However, there has been constant pressure from progressives to blow up the filibuster to switch to a simple majority take-all situation. President Biden and other prominent old-school Dems have yet to endorse that move.