The Democratic majority House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to advance a bill that was co-sponsored by Democrats and five Republicans that would require universal background checks on gun purchases, according to The Hill.
Currently, only licensed retailers are required to conduct background checks on those who purchase firearms.
Should this legislation move forward, even unlicensed private sellers, whether through an online transaction or at a gun show, would also be required to conduct the checks.
The legislation is titled the “Bipartisan Background Checks Act.”
According to The Hill, the bill is sponsored by Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson of California and Republican Representative Peter King of New York.
It is also supported by Republican Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Brian Mast of Florida, Fred Upton of Michigan and Chris Smith of New Jersey.
The bill passed out of the committee on Wednesday evening, the day before the one-year anniversary of the Parkland, Florida, shooting that took the lives of 17.
Rep. Ted Deutch, the Florida Democrat who represents area Parkland area, made an impassioned plea to his fellow Judiciary Committee members, according to National Review.
“It happened,” Deutch said. “Now, our responsibility is to do everything we can to make sure it never happens again.”
Standing today and always with the community of Parkland and the families of the victims of the MSD shooting as we honor their lives one year after their tragic deaths. #NeverForget pic.twitter.com/HrgajBkJSX
— Rep. Ted Deutch (@RepTedDeutch) February 14, 2019
While Democrats have been clear that they believe universal background checks will help curb mass shootings, according to National Review, a series of exemptions were proposed by Republicans, including situations involving someone giving a firearm to a friend as a gift.
Those exemptions were rejected by Democrats, however, and as the bill stands currently, anyone who wished to transfer ownership of a gun to another person would need to visit a licensed dealer in order to obtain a background check.
“It is time to close this dangerous loophole,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, according to The Hill.
“This is long-overdue legislation that will help address our national crisis of gun violence.”
There is, however, an exemption that includes the right to temporarily transfer a weapon if deemed “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm, if the possession by the transferee lasts only as long as immediately necessary to prevent the imminent death or great bodily harm,” according to National Review.
The legislation also offers an exception for gifts between family members, and the loan or temporary transfer for use hunting or at a shooting range.
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