The political scene has been replete for months, if not years, with continuous attacks on both sides of the aisle as to the need to reduce gun violence. The fact that federal laws are already strong on background checks and transfer guidelines has done little to diminish criticism.
Some states, including New York in 2019, have passed so-called “Red Flag” laws or Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO). The recent mass shooting in Buffalo occurred despite it. This leaves critics of guns little to focus on other than more gun control especially the inclusion of increased background checks. The House of Representatives passed in March 2021 H.R. 8. This bill established new background requirements for firearm transfers between private parties ( i.e. unlicensed individuals).
This article attempts to educate the reader as to the facts in the bill as well as it’s failures. As indicated “The bottom line is that the bill represents gun control measures that encroach on the freedoms of law-abiding citizens and do little to reduce gun violence.”
H. R. 8 – Facts and Failures
This morning, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee plan to markup H.R. 8, the ‘Bipartisan Background Checks Act.’ However, Democrats have shown little interest in incorporating conservative perspectives into their so-called ‘bipartisan’ bill. At a hearing on H.R. 8 last week, Democrats denied Whip Scalise the opportunity to testify as a member witness about his experience as a survivor of gun violence and his strong support for our Second Amendment rights.
Unfortunately, H.R. 8’s claim to bipartisanship isn’t the only sham part of the bill. The bottom line is that the bill represents gun control measures that encroach on the freedoms of law-abiding citizens and do little to reduce gun violence.
H.R. 8 shortfalls (courtesy of the House Judiciary Committee)
Current federal laws are already strong on background checks and transfer guidelines.
Federal law already prohibits:
Transferring a firearm to anyone known or believed to be prohibited from possessing firearms.
Individuals from from transferring a handgun across state lines to someone without a firearms license.
Anyone from acquiring firearms on behalf of another person who is prohibited from possessing firearms.
Anyone from providing a handgun to a juvenile.
Dealers from selling rifles or shotguns to individuals under the age of 18.
The vast majority of firearm transfers at gun shows are conducted by federal firearms licensees performing a NICS background check.
H.R. 8 would not have stopped any of these mass shootings:
- Columbine High School, Columbine, CO – April 20, 1999
- Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA – April 16, 2007
- Fort Hood, TX – November 5, 2009
- Tuscon, AZ – January 8, 2011
- Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown, CT – December 14, 2012
- Aurora, CO – July 20, 2012
- Navy Yard, Washington, DC – September 16, 2013
- Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, SC – June 17, 2015
- San Bernardino, CA – December 2, 2015
- Pulse Nightclub, Orlando, FL – June 12, 2016
- Las Vegas, NV – October 1, 2017
- First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, TX – November 5, 2017
- Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL – February 14, 2018
H.R. 8’s background check requirement on firearm transfers criminalizes the actions of honest, law-abiding citizens, including the following scenarios:
Tim is struggling with suicidal thoughts. He asks a close friend to safekeep his guns while he seeks help. Under H.R. 8, Tim potentially faces up to one year in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.
Shannon is a victim of violent domestic abuse. Her ex-husband and abuser is being released from prison and Shannon fears for her life. Shannon’s neighbor, Scott, lends her a firearm for self-defense. Under H.R. 8, Scott potentially faces up to one year in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.
Joe and Bill have been hunting together for 40 years. This year, Joe is sick and can’t make the trip, but Bill asks if he can borrow Joe’s deer rifle. Joe lends the rifle to Bill the weekend before the trip, but Bill can’t return it immediately once the trip is over. Under H.R. 8, Joe potentially faces up to one year in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.
Ted’s uncle wants to go to the shooting range. Ted knows he’s allowed to transfer a firearm to an aunt or uncle, so he agrees to lend him his rifle. When Ted’s cousin shows up at the door on his way to meet Ted’s uncle at the shooting range, Ted gives him the rifle. Under H.R. 8, while aunts and uncles are exempted from transfer restrictions, cousins arbitrarily are not, and Ted now potentially faces up to one year in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.
Highlights from Whip. Scalise’s prepared, and undelivered, testimony:
“As someone who experienced gun violence, I do not want anyone else to go through that trauma. However, it is also important to me that we be honest with ourselves and the American people about what will — or won’t — actually prevent these tragedies.”
“The new gun control restrictions currently being considered by the Democratic majority in H.R. 8 would not have prevented my shooting.”
“Based on similar gun control measures in states like California, H.R. 8 would not deter a criminal from engaging in criminal activity, and it won’t decrease gun crime. Instead, it only succeeds in limiting the ways that law-abiding citizens could exercise their Second Amendment rights.”
“Every single month in America, law-abiding citizens with concealed carry permits defend themselves and others against criminals who have guns.”
“Instead of making it harder for citizens to defend themselves until law enforcement arrives, Congress should consider legislation like H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act”
“I firmly believe we must never forget, nor minimize, the importance of the Second Amendment to our Constitution.”
“If our goal is to reduce gun violence, then we should focus on penalizing criminals, not law-abiding citizens.”