House OKs Second Bill Aimed at Gun Background Checks

WASHINGTON (CN) – The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill changing rules for background checks on gun sales, the second measure aimed at tightening up background-check laws the chamber has passed in as many days.

(Photo credit: M&R Glasgow/Wikipedia)

The bill changes rules for what happens when a federal background check on a gun sale is delayed. Under current law, a sale can go through if the background check does not come back as negative within three days.

Advocates have called the current rule the “Charleston loophole” in reference to Dylann Roof, who would not have been able to buy a gun because of drug charges but got one nonetheless because his background check took more than three days to go through. Roof went on to kill nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

The bill the House passed Thursday would change the procedure, giving a person whose background check is delayed beyond 10 business days the chance to file a petition with the Justice Department to review their case. If after 10 more business days there has still not been a response, the sale could go through.

“I’m here today to say that the members of the august body need to think a little bit about the value of those lives,” House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., said on the House floor Thursday. “Are they more valuable than the inconvenience a gun purchaser may have by having to wait 10, rather than three days to make a purchase?”

The 228-198 vote comes one day after the House passed a separate piece of legislation that would expand background check requirements to include private sales by unlicensed dealers, including online and at gun shows.

President Donald Trump has threatened to veto both bills.

In a statement of administration policy, the White House said the bill the House passed Thursday would “impose burdensome delays” on people who want to buy guns.

“Allowing the federal government to restrict firearms purchases through bureaucratic delays would undermine the Second Amendment’s guarantee that law-abiding citizens have an individual right to keep and bear arms,” according to the statement.   

Representative Doug Collins, R-Ga., said the bill was hastily written and could block law-abiding people from purchasing guns through bureaucratic delays. Republicans have also said the bill could harm vulnerable people, like domestic abuse victims, who want to buy a gun for self-defense.  

“As I have said many times, we do not vote on aspirational ideas in this chamber,” Collins said on the House floor Thursday. “They’re great to debate, but we do not vote on aspirational ideas, we vote on words on paper.”

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