House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Rep. Mike Thompson, and former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords unveiled a bill on Tuesday that would prohibit the private sale of firearms. With the exception of law enforcement and the transfer of guns between friends and family, all gun sales would require a background check be conducted on the prospective buyer.
“Thanks to the relentless efforts of advocates, courageous gun violence survivors, and the American voters who elected new leaders to Congress, I am thrilled that for the first time in decades, the United States House of Representatives will no longer sit silent as our nation reels from the growing gun violence epidemic,” Giffords said in a statement announcing the legislation from Pelosi’s office.
The major anti-gun advocacy groups also voiced their support for the bill.
Moms Demand Action Founder Shannon Watts called the legislation “an essential step towards ending America’s gun violence crisis,” and Everytown for Gun Safety President John Feinblatt said the bill proves “gun safety is no longer the third rail of American politics.”
Not to be outdone, David Hogg threw in his two cents during a CNN interview (see video above), claiming that the NRA opposes universal background checks because “after every single mass shooting, gun sales go up significantly and the NRA benefits from that.”
Ironically, neither the Parkland massacre Hogg used to launch himself into the public spotlight nor the incident survived by Rep. Giffords would have been prevented by the bill they’re peddling. In both cases, the murderer acquired his firearms legally after passing a background check.
“Instead of looking for effective solutions that will deal with the root cause of violent crime and save lives, anti-gun politicians would rather score political points and push ineffective legislation that doesn’t stop criminals from committing crimes,” Jennifer Baker, an NRA spokesperson, said in a statement.
Proponents of the bill say that too many Americans acquire firearms without undergoing a background check. In an email to supporters, Everytown for Gun Safety claims, “the Internet has emerged as a massive, unregulated marketplace, where hundreds of thousands of gun sales take place with no background check. A recent study suggests nearly a quarter of Americans who obtain a firearm do so without getting a background check.”
Gun ban advocates frequently reference this study, which was released in 2017 and found that, based on survey data, about 22 percent of Americans have obtained a firearm in the past two years without undergoing a background check.
Their findings departed significantly from previous estimates, which put the number around 40 percent in the early ’90s. But even this new, lower number is misleading, for only 13 percent of purchased firearm transfers that took place within the last two years occurred without a background check.
Considering most people don’t gift firearms to strangers, the study suggests that a large percentage of non-background-check firearms are “obtained” from friends and family, two categories of people that would not be required from undergoing a background check under the proposed legislation.
Pelosi’s bill, in other words, only targets a tiny percentage of firearms purchasers, many of whom are unlikely to commit crimes.
As evidence for this, a recent Johns Hopkins study found that California’s long-standing universal background check law had no effect on either suicide or homicide in the state.
They found “no change in the rates of either cause of death from firearms through 2000.”
The new legislation is likely to pass the House, where Democrats hold a 36-seat majority. Several Republicans have also pledged their support of the bill, including Rep. Peter King (R-NY) the lead GOP sponsor, Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)
Though Senate GOP leaders have yet to comment, it remains unlikely the bill will get any attention on the floor.