Pingree Heralds Passage of Historic Gun Violence Prevention Legislation
Washington, March 11, 2021
Tags: Community Safety
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today heralded the passage of two historic gun violence prevention bills in the U.S. House of Representatives. H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, would expand the current federal background check to cover nearly all firearm sales; H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, would close the so-called “Charleston loophole,” which enables some firearms to be transferred by licensed gun dealers before the required background checks have been completed.
“Since the beginning of my tenure in Congress, I’ve heard from countless students who feel unsafe at school, parents who fear for their children, and families who’ve suffered devastating losses due to the holes in our system that allow for firearms to make it into the wrong hands,” said Pingree. “Coming from a small town, where many of my friends and neighbors are hunters, I have a deep respect for sportsmen in Maine. However, as a mother and grandmother, I recognize the need to prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands. Gun violence is preventable, and it’s shameful that we’ve failed to enact meaningful reform that would end the epidemic of gun violence. I’ve supported enhanced background checks for more than a decade, and that’s why I’m proud to vote for H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446 today. This is an easy, effective, popular step that will save lives.”
H.R. 8 would widen required background checks to all gun sales and most transfers, an action that is supported by more than 90 percent of Americans. Current law only requires federally licensed dealers to conduct background checks on their sales. This legislation would require a background check for every gun sale or transfer, with some reasonable and explicit exceptions that, for example, allow a person: to give a gun as a gift to a family member; loan a gun for hunting or target shooting; or temporarily transfer a gun for self-defense. More about the carefully-defined exemptions for transfers between family members, for hunting, and other situations can be found here.
H.R. 1446 closes the Charleston loophole, which allowed a white supremacist to purchase the firearm used at the Emanuel AME Church in 2015, where he killed nine Black South Carolinians during a Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina. Federal law currently allows a “default proceed” whereby a federally licensed firearm dealer can sell a gun to a customer if the federal background check is not completed within 3 business days of the background check request. The shooter was prohibited by law from possessing a firearm, but was able to acquire his gun before the background check was completed.