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House passes two bills that would strengthen gun safety with enhanced background checks

(© W. Scott McGill –

The House of Representatives voted today to pass two bills that would close background check loopholes and make sure individuals prohibited from gun possession under federal law are unable to purchase firearms.

The Background Checks Act, passed with a bipartisan majority of support today in the U.S. House, would close the loophole allowing individuals purchasing a gun from an unlicensed seller — including online, person-to-person, or at a gun show – to evade having to go through a background check.

The second piece of legislation – the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021 – would close the “Charleston Loophole,” which is the loophole that allowed Dylann Roof, a man prohibited by law from buying firearms, to purchase a gun before killing nine congregants at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015.

The legislation extends the background check length to 10 days, so that federal law enforcement have the time they need to complete necessary background checks that help keep our communities safe.

“American schools, workplaces, shopping centers, and places of worship should be free from the threat of deadly gun violence. However, we’ve seen an uptick in deadly mass shootings across the country in recent years. As a former federal law enforcement agent who carried a firearm every day, I know the responsibility and training that comes with owning a firearm — and as a parent, legislator, and community member, I know that commonsense gun safety legislation is long overdue,” Seventh District Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger said.

“After the mass shooting in Virginia Beach on May 31, 2019, the issue of gun violence has become personal for all of us in Coastal Virginia,” Second District Congresswoman Elaine Luria said. “Congress must enact policies that reduce preventable gun violence while protecting the constitutional right for law-abiding Americans to bear arms. This bill will help keep firearms from falling into the hands of those who may cause harm to themselves or others.”

“These bills represent the most important gun violence prevention legislation in a quarter century,” Eighth District Congressman Don Beyer said. “Requiring a background check for every gun sale and closing the Charleston loophole are commonsense reforms that enjoy wide support among the American people, including Republicans. This legislation would absolutely save lives, and the Senate should send it to President Biden’s desk for signature with all possible haste.”

First District Republican Rob Wittman voted against both measures.

“Just as many of you are, I am concerned about gun violence and believe we should continue to address this problem, but without curtailing Second Amendment rights. However, H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446 are ineffective responses to gun violence that will have the effect of depriving law-abiding citizens from exercising their Second Amendment rights while doing little to prevent mass shootings or prevent individuals who should not possess firearms from purchasing firearms,” Wittman said.

“We already have such a strong background system in place: the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and current federal laws are already strong on background checks and transfer guidelines. All sales from firearm dealers, or sales between residents of different states, must satisfy the background check requirements, regardless of whether those sales happen in a gun shop, at a gun show, or out of the back of somebody’s trunk in a parking lot.”

augusta free press
augusta free press