Issue: H.R. 8, Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021. Question: On Passage.
Result: Passed in House, 227 to 203, 1 not voting. Democrats only scored.
Freedom First Society: H.R. 8 is a further assault on the Constitution’s 2nd amendment guarantee that our “right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” H.R. 8 would criminalize many activities that are common practice among law-abiding gun owners. It requires individuals seeking to transfer a gun between themselves to first involve a licensed gun dealer who holds the gun for the duration of a background check and threatens prison time and a huge fine for violation.
Much more ominous is the agenda of the real drivers of this anti-2nd amendment campaign, deceptively masquerading as an effort to curb “gun violence.” The objective of the campaign is total civilian disarmament and a totalitarian state (see our Analysis, below).
We score only the Democrats on this one as the Democrat House majority made it easy for GOP reps to posture ineffective opposition.
We have assigned (good vote) to the Nays and (bad vote) to the Yeas. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)
Bill Summary (Congressional Research Service):
Shown Here: Introduced in House (03/01/2021)
Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021
This bill establishes new background check requirements for firearm transfers between private parties (i.e., unlicensed individuals).
Specifically, it prohibits a firearm transfer between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer first takes possession of the firearm to conduct a background check.
The prohibition does not apply to certain firearm transfers, such as a gift between spouses in good faith. [Emphasis added.]
Analysis: On March 11, 2021, the House passed a pair of background check measures for firearm sales and transfers: This one, H.R. 8, Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, and immediately thereafter H.R. 1446, Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021. H.R. 8 dealt with transfers between private parties, whereas H.R. 1446 lengthened the waiting period to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer.
H.R. 8 employed the misleading “bipartisan” in its title because three House Republicans had come on board as original cosponsors. But only 8 GOP reps voted in favor of H.R. 8, whereas 202 voted against.
Target Criminals, Not Guns
After his daughter 18-year old Meadow was murdered in the 2018 Parkland school shooting, Andrew Pollack studied the gun control arguments and became a strong opponent of any inroads against the 2nd Amendment.
In his foreword to John R. Lott’s 2020 Gun Control Myths, Pollack pointed to one lesson he learned from Lott: “After every shooting, maybe the number one thing you hear from gun control groups is that we need to close the ‘gun show loophole’ and ‘regulate private sales.’ It’s the kind of proposal that sounds like it makes a lot of sense. But did you know that not one single mass shooting in the 20th century was perpetrated with a gun acquired through that so-called loophole?”
Behind the Gun Control Lobby
Unfortunately, merely showing that gun control propaganda is wrong minimizes the danger by obscuring the powerful drivers behind the movement and what they really hope to achieve by civilian disarmament.
Undoubtedly, some of the politicians advocating greater gun control are mere opportunists seeking favor from a propagandized constituency by using superficially appealing arguments. But not all. And it is the influential drivers and their agenda that must be exposed if Americans are going to be alarmed enough to save the Second Amendment.
That influential driving force leads to Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) one-worlders. In 1958, Wall Street lawyer Grenville Clark, vice president of the globalist United World Federalists, and Professor Louis B. Sohn (CFR) published World Peace Through World Law. In that text, esteemed by “world order” advocates, Clark and Sohn called for strict controls on the possession of arms and ammunition by private citizens and even local police.
The plan introduced by Clark and Sohn in 1958 would be taken up by CFR members of the Kennedy administration, including President Kennedy himself, and his Secretaries of State (Dean Rusk) and Defense (Robert S. McNamara). President Kennedy signed the law creating the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. He also introduced “Freedom From War: The United States Program for General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World” at the UN, an incredibly subversive plan that continued to guide future administrations. But the real authors of the two initiatives were John J. McCloy, chairman of the CFR and Arthur H. Dean, a CFR director.
GOP Opponents Speak
We highlight here a couple of arguments by GOP opponents from the Congressional Record:
Rep. Jody Hice (R-Georgia): Look, bottom line is, we all know that by definition criminals don’t abide by the law. And that applies also when they are purchasing firearms. Nothing in this bill prohibits this type of individual from obtaining firearms.
In fact, the majority of individuals in prison for committing crimes with firearms obtain their firearms through theft, the underground market, family members, and the like.
But what this bill does is threaten everyday American citizens with up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine for exercising their Second Amendment right in doing common practices.
To say that this does not create a national gun registry, you cannot accomplish what is in this bill without a gun registry.
The reality is universal background checks do not stop mass shootings. We do not have mass shootings because of lack of background checks. This bill will not make our communities safer. In fact, what it will do is cause law-abiding citizens to lose more of their Second Amendment rights.
We shouldn’t be focused here in Congress in taking those rights away. We actually should be strengthening the enforcement of laws we already have to make our communities safer.
I stand with the Constitution and urge my colleagues to vote against H.R. 8.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas): Mr. Speaker, we have been told that 90 percent of Americans support this bill. Well, that is because 99.99 percent of Americans have not read this bill.
And we are told, yet again, that this will save lives. And, yet, there is not one single mass killing that has been brought up here today that would have been prevented by this bill.
And yet over and over we have people come in here, usually they mean well; look, this will protect people when the fact is that they can’t point to any of these mass killings they talk about that would have been prevented.
So let’s talk about lives that would be saved. Think about the people that are shot every day and would their situation be different if they were not finding it so difficult to legally get a gun?
I mean, we had thousands of felony cases that came through my court, and we tried a lot of those cases. Over and over you hear, the criminals are not obeying the law. They are not going to follow the law. They got their guns illegally. And this will not change at all any of those people we tried and convicted for getting guns. They steal them. They buy them from other people that stole them. They don’t obey the law. That is why they are criminals. So quit penalizing the American people.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.): Mr. Speaker, H.R. 8 is brought to us by the same organizations and politicians who have made no secret of their intention ultimately to strip law-abiding citizens of their right to defend themselves. Now, they know they can’t do it outright, so they do it through cynical measures like this, which weave a web of laws so intricate that, sooner or later, everyone can be caught up in them.
This law affects not only sales but any transfer of a weapon for any period of time. A couple of years ago, a 10-year study by Johns Hopkins and UC Davis concluded that California’s background check law had no effect on gun homicides or suicides. None.
The purpose of this bill is not public safety. That is its deceptive facade. Its purpose is to make gun ownership so legally hazardous, so fraught with legal boobytraps and draconian penalties, that no honest and law-abiding citizen would ever want to take the risk.
Most criminals already get their guns illegally. They are unconstrained by laws like this. This bill is aimed squarely at law-abiding citizens, moving us closer to a society where decent people are defenseless and armed criminals are kings.
• • •
Below, we provide most of the GOP opposition to H.R. 8, not cited above. The GOP remarks are instructive, but fall short of the essential explanation of what is really behind the drive to abolish the 2nd Amendment.
From the Congressional Record (3-10-21):
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), the co-chair of the Second Amendment Caucus: Mr. Speaker, Democrats today want to introduce gun control legislation that they say is going to make you safer. They want to expand background checks.
But what do background checks accomplish? Well, the DOJ said there were 112,000 denials in a year. Who were those 112,000 people?
Well, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would have you think those were felons, they saved you from those felons. But how many of those 112,000 were prosecuted for that crime of trying to acquire that gun? According to the DOJ, 12–1-2–12 in a year. Who were the other 100,000?
Imagine, just imagine now that you are the victim of an abusive relationship and after 5 years you have summoned the courage and the resources to separate from that relationship, but things have escalated and now you have decided that it is time to acquire the means to protect you and your children. So you go to the gun store and you try to buy a gun. The clerk presses the computer button, and it says “denied.”
You ask the clerk, “Why was it denied?” The clerk says, “I don’t know. This happens sometimes. Maybe you had a similar name to somebody else in the database.”
You can’t buy a gun today, tomorrow, next week. Not ever. You havebeen denied. So you go to a friend you have known for a long time. Your friend says, “I would like to help you.” You say, “Well, I don’t know if I am going to make it through the night.”
Your friend says, “I would like to help you, but don’t you know H.R. 8 passed and it was signed by the President. I can’t spend a year in a cage. Good luck tonight.”
Mr. Speaker, now, I am not going to ask you to imagine what happens next because the Democrats saw fit to put into this bill a requirement that you have an imminent threat of death. The threat has to be right there upon you or great bodily harm. What do they say?
Well, if you are just expecting a few bruises and maybe a punch, put some ice on it.
Mr. Speaker, I am going to ask my colleagues here today and I am going to challenge the sponsors of this bill and those of them who might think they would vote for this bill to consider whether it is fair.
Is it fair to surround yourself with armed guards, with Capitol Hill Police who have guns, with personal details, bodyguards, and ask the people to pay for it when you make it harder for those same people to protect themselves?
I don’t think that is fair. And for the fact checkers who are already hard at work on this speech, I include in the Record this GAO report on the DOJ statistics on background checks.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio): Mr. Speaker, no, it doesn’t. The previous speaker said when this bill becomes law, it will stop some of the mass shootings — all of the mass shootings that happen in this country. No, it won’t.
Nothing in this bill would prohibit, would have stopped any of those terrible things that took place.
What this bill does is stop law-abiding citizens from exercising their Second Amendment liberties, just as the gentleman from Kentucky mentioned a few minutes ago.
Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Indiana): Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 8. A major reason our Founding Fathers drafted the Second Amendment is to have a check and balance for the people against the tyranny of government. It is the Second Amendment for a reason, not the Ninth or the Tenth. You must have the Second to protect the First.
The first action by history’s dictators — and we know all of them — was to take guns from law-abiding citizens. We must remember that there is no law that stops criminals from getting guns and committing crimes. We would have empty prisons otherwise.
As someone who grew up under a tyrannical government, I value these rights tremendously, and I encourage my colleagues to be vigilant and protect these rights for all law-abiding citizens. I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill.
Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah): Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446.
In this last week I received over 1,000 emails from constituents in strong opposition to these antigun bills. Here is a sample:
“H.R. 8 will make it impossible to sell or loan guns to my relatives and trusted friends.” “These bills appear designed to impose restrictions on natural rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.” And finally, “Stand for our rights and oppose these measures with every tool in your grasp.”
I absolutely will fight these measures with every tool in my grasp. These rights protect my life, liberty, and property granted to me by God and cannot be taken away from me by D.C. bureaucrats.
I grew up in the Deep South at a time when Black Americans were unable to defend themselves. After the Civil War, Black Codes and Jim Crow laws prohibited people of color from owning firearms.
In the mid-1950s, Martin Luther King, Jr., kept firearms for self-protection, but his application for a concealed weapon permit was denied because of racist gun control laws in his State.
As a child, my dad witnessed an altercation between his father and a southern White man who thought my grandfather was being disrespectful and threatened to teach him a lesson. Later that night he drove up to my grandfather’s home with a bunch of his friends standing on the forerunner of a Model T Ford.
My grandfather was prepared. He and his brothers had hidden around his front porch. As these bullies and cowards approached the house, they heard the click of rifles and left just as fast as they came. Without ever firing his gun on another human being, my grandfather’s right to own a firearm ensured his rights to protect his life, liberty, and property. I urge my colleagues to vote against these anti-Second Amendment bills.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Arizona): Mr. Speaker, the last 2 weeks, the majority has attacked the First Amendment, and now they are attacking the Second Amendment.
H.R. 8 will not save lives. As Justice Scalia noted in his decision in Heller, the Second Amendment does not give Americans a right; it protects a preexisting right, and that right shall not be infringed.
H.R. 8 would not have prevented recent shootings. In Parkland, the shooter acquired the firearm legally from an FFL after undergoing a NICS check. The same thing in Sutherland Springs, Texas; the same in Las Vegas, Nevada; and the same in Orlando. I could go on because the list would produce the same result. They got their guns after a background check, including in El Paso.
Criminals who seek to do harm get guns regardless of the new restrictions imposed by H.R. 8. And with very limited exceptions, H.R. 8 makes it illegal for Americans to get a gun if a nonlicensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer is not involved. How will the government know if an illegal transfer occurs? Without a registry, this bill is unenforceable.
Mr. Speaker, I have heard supporters of this bill say that other countries have similar restrictions so we should, too. I counter with the fact that other countries do not have the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment was included to ensure that the United States would be different than other countries. Mr. Speaker, I oppose this bill, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado), co-chair of the Second Amendment Caucus: Mr. Speaker, I was raised in a Democrat home, so I understand how these policies are deceiving. I understand that we are told guns are scary. That is what we were told, and that is what we believed, because we trusted the people who we voted for. But just as with most things in life, I grew up and learned that there is a better way to live. I was ignorant to firearms and the proper use of them.
Mr. Speaker, when I became a business owner, I needed to protect myself. There was an altercation outside of my restaurant, where a man was physically beat to death. There were no weapons involved. He was beaten to death by another man’s hands.
I have a lot of young girls who work in my restaurant, and we needed an equalizer. I am 5 feet tall. I weigh barely 100 pounds. I need something against a stronger potential aggressor to defend myself with.
Talk about women’s rights. Don’t take my right away to protect myself.
I mean, seriously, what are we doing here? I ask the supporters of this legislation, who do you think you are to disarm Americans and leave them vulnerable without help?
You want to defund our police and yet leave us without a way to protect ourselves. Our Founding Fathers gave us a list of items. They said don’t touch these things. And I am telling you, keep your hands off of our Second Amendment.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio): Mr. Speaker, the previous speaker talked about the increase in violent crime in her neighborhood last year. Maybe if Democrats actively supported our police and not supported defund the police, maybe that wouldn’t be the case.
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Arizona): Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill.
H.R. 8 is an assault on our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The bill turns law-abiding citizens into criminals by subjecting them to criminal penalties for simply lending a friend or a neighbor a gun on a temporary basis.
Additionally, the bill would inevitably lead to a national gun registry because, without a registry, the government has no way to implement this legislation. This bill is certainly a slippery slope.
Most alarmingly, this bill does nothing, absolutely nothing, to stop criminals from obtaining firearms. According to the Department of Justice, less than 1 percent of criminals in prison who possessed a firearm during their offense obtained the firearm from a licensed dealer, meaning criminals would still have access to firearms under this law.
Mr. Speaker, this bill is just the first of many steps to take away our Second Amendment rights. I urge my colleagues to vote against this bill.
Rep. Ben Cline (R-Virginia). Mr. Speaker, enough is enough, which is why I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 8 and to offer a motion to recommit the bill.
This bill is nothing more than a coordinated effort by the authoritarian left to strip away the constitutional rights guaranteed to Americans by the Second Amendment.
Instead of criminalizing the innocent actions of law-abiding gun owners, American citizens, we should be focused on stopping real crime in our local communities and enforcing the laws that are already on the books.
One way we can do that is by ensuring that ICE is notified when unlawful aliens attempt to purchase a firearm illegally. The FBI reported just last month that NICS had over 10 million people listed as an illegal alien. In fact, this ranks as the number one prohibited category in the FBI’s NICS Indices.
Since 1998, over 28,000 illegal aliens have been denied a firearm after failing a NICS check. With over 2,700 in 2019 alone, this means over 28,000 criminals have been allowed to stay in the United States when ICE should have been alerted about their criminal act but were not.
Mr. Speaker, H.R. 8 fails to do anything to prevent crime, which is why I am offering this motion to recommit, so our Nation’s laws are enforced. And if you will recall, this MTR passed in 2019 with a strong bipartisan majority.
Mr. Speaker, if we adopt the motion to recommit, we will instruct the Committee on the Judiciary to consider my amendment to H.R. 8 to ensure that the FBI alerts ICE anytime an illegal alien is denied a firearm because of NICS.
Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Georgia): Mr. Speaker, I rise to stand against H.R. 8.
This bill would make it a crime to transfer a firearm from one individual to another without a Federal firearms licensee overseeing the transfer and conducting a background check on the prospective buyer. While there are limited exceptions to this bill, in this bill it does nothing to address how violent criminals actually obtain firearms, nor does the bill make it harder for them to obtain a firearm. That is because criminals don’t follow the law. That is why they are called criminals.
So by making these types of changes to the law, the bill does nothing to prohibit guns from ending up in the hands of criminals. Instead, it does everything possible to make it harder for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
Mr. Speaker, I urge a “no” vote on H.R. 8.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas): Mr. Speaker, right now in south Texas there are American citizens whose lives are in danger because of wide open borders as a direct result of Biden’s border crisis and the policies of the Democratic leadership of this body and the Senate. American citizens are unsafe. I am not making that up.
For the last 2 years, I have heard my Democratic colleagues talking about a fake crisis at our border. There is nothing fake about 100,000 people coming across our border; or high-speed chases through Uvalde, Texas; or high-speed chases in Real County, which I represent. There is nothing fake about break-ins putting lives in danger.
People own ranches, and now my Democratic colleagues, after defunding the police and opening up our borders, want to take away our God-given right — yes, God-given right — to defend ourselves under the Second Amendment. That is what this is about. This is about creating a gun registry to track guns of the American people. There is no way to implement what the Democrats are trying to implement without doing that.
I can just tell you straight up, Texans, Americans, the Government is never going to know what weapons I own. Let me be clear about that. It is not going to happen. We have a God-given right to defend our families, defend our State, and defend ourselves against tyranny; and we will do that regardless of the errant policies that this Democratic Congress is trying to jam through.
Rep. Gregory Murphy (R-North Carolina): Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 8 as well as H.R. 1446.
There is not a single Member in this Chamber who does not mourn the innocent lives lost to gun violence, but I solemnly believe that my Democratic colleagues lack a fundamental understanding of this issue.
I have worked as a surgeon who has done pelvic trauma for close to 30 years. In fact, I will submit that I am the only Member of this Chamber who has ever operated on a gunshot victim. The infinite majority of gunshot victims are shot by criminals who have obtained their guns illegally. They did not apply for permits. They are not a member of the NRA. They are criminals. These bills would do nothing to keep the guns out of their hands.
In all my years as a surgeon, I have yet to see a gun jump up by itself and injure someone. It is either from a crime, a mental illness, or tragically from an accident. Where I live in eastern North Carolina, it is certainly different from New York City, the gun haven of Chicago, or Oakland, but we still have our share of drug-related and gang-related crime.
On the other hand, we have a lot of wilderness that people back home, adults and children, still enjoy hunting. These law-abiding citizens should not have their rights trampled upon. We are all saddened by the loss of life from mass shootings, but, Mr. Speaker, the issue is not the gun itself, but the mental illness borne by the gun holder. A mentally stable person does not shoot innocent people.
Mr. Speaker, H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446 absurdly hamper people’s ability to exercise their constitutional right to defend themselves. This sort of broad government overreach does not save lives, but treats everyday law-abiding citizens like criminals. Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote “no” on these bills. We should not support bills that place the rights of violent criminals above those law-abiding American citizens.
Rep. Ted Budd (R-North Carolina): Mr. Speaker, the fundamental truth is that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms to protect themselves and their loved ones.
America’s Founders spoke on this issue extensively. Benjamin Franklin warned that those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin was right. The American tradition of self-reliance, self-determination, and self-defense has been fierce. It has been what makes this country so exceptional and so great.
Today, the House will vote on legislation that would undermine that very right. What is worse is that both of these bills would not have prevented mass shootings or tragedies across this Nation. Those are awful events. We all agree that those events are awful. But in those cases, the criminal either passed a background check or they stole their weapons.
We cannot sacrifice our rights by passing laws that will make our families less safe and laws that criminals will simply ignore. We must always protect and preserve our God-given Second Amendment right.
Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio): Mr. Speaker, it is no secret that I have been a committed defender of the Second Amendment since being elected to Congress back in 1994. For me, that means that I will do everything that I possibly can to ensure that the rights of Americans, as they relate to the Second Amendment, are protected, while at the same timeworking to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and mentally unstable individuals.
H.R. 8, unfortunately, doesn’t accomplish either of those goals. It is overburdensome, unreasonable, and, if passed, would instead keep firearms out of the hands of some hardworking and law-abiding citizens.
Yesterday, at the Rules Committee, I offered an amendment which would allow for the transfer of a firearm to museums or historical displays without going through the burdensome requirements of this measure, but that eminently reasonable amendment and others offered by my colleagues were flatly rejected by the majority.
During this afternoon’s debate, we have again expressed several concerns which will not be addressed or considered by the majority. Instead of focusing on improving the National Instant Criminal Background Checks System, or NICS, providing resources to assist those with mental illnesses or hardening soft targets like schools and places of worship, the majority will pass this legislation and attempt to further infringe on the Second Amendment rights of our constituents. That is very, very unfortunate.
Mr. Speaker, for those reasons, I stand in opposition to this deeply flawed legislation.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), the co-chair of the Second Amendment Caucus: Mr. Speaker, I have a brief point to make. I wonder how my colleagues on the other side of the aisle hold two thoughts in contradiction simultaneously in their minds. They say that photo IDs and excessive registration paperwork and whatnot disenfranchises disproportionately minorities and the poor when they go to exercise their right to vote. But today with H.R. 8 and the next bill that is coming up, they are doing exactly that. They are causing there to be increased fees, increased paperwork, and more photo IDs.
How does that not disenfranchise not just all Americans but disproportionately minorities and the poor? Mr. Speaker, I leave that to my colleagues to answer today.
Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R–Texas): Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the legislation we are considering today.
In cities across America, violent crime has increased; and in cities across America, laws already exist to severely punish violent criminals. But despite this, we are seeing local elected officials, district attorneys, and prosecutors refuse to enforce existing laws and police who are continuously held back from doing their jobs.
Instead of offering real solutions to improve public safety, it seems the majority is determined to punish law-abiding citizens while doing nothing to actually close loopholes in the system.
If the bills we are considering were really stopping gun crimes and violent offenders from owning guns, then my amendment would be one we are discussing today, to prevent minors aged 15 to 17 who have committed violent crimes from having their records expunged and thereby able to purchase a firearm.
But rather than take up my amendment to prevent felons from sidestepping our laws, the majority felt it more critical for public safety to expand background checks to ranchers and farmers with pest control issues. This is absurd.
Nothing in H.R. 1446 or H.R. 8 would prevent those seeking to harm others from acquiring firearms. The people of my district deserve better than this, which is why I will be introducing legislation that will actually prevent violent criminals from clearing their record.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill and side with law-abiding Americans and side with those of us who want to take guns out of the hands of violent criminals.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio): Mr. Speaker, the previous speaker talked about Chicago’s strictest gun laws in the country, but yet there was a record number of shootings and crime last year. What could be the cause of that? Maybe it is the fact they defunded their police, something we have talked about now, well, since the Democrats started doing it.
Rep. Glenn Grothman (R–Wisconsin): Mr. Speaker, one more time we see people uncomfortable with our Constitution. Our forefathers gave us the right to bear arms because they wanted law-abiding people to have the right to defend themselves.
Until Ferguson and the rise of the antipolice movement about 5 years ago, the murder rate in this country fell by over one-half between the early 1990s and around 2014.
What happened at that time? We whipped up some antipolice hysteria, and since that time things have gone wildly up. Now the majority party introduces a cache of bills designed to make it more difficult for law-abiding people to access a weapon while not having any impact on people who wouldn’t obey the laws anyway.
They don’t like the idea of private transfers. They don’t like the idea of being able to get a gun in less than 10 days. They don’t like the idea that if the government doesn’t give the proper information over — well, apparently, they like the idea that they want to keep people from getting guns if the government, for whatever reason, is slow in turning things over.
In any event, let’s go back to the things that worked for 25 years before the rise of the antipolice movement if we really want to see improvement.
Rep. Daniel Meuser (R-Pennsylvania): Mr. Speaker, once again, Democratic leadership is proposing legislation that would do nothing to prevent criminals from accessing firearms while greatly restricting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
These bills are being sold to the public as an effort to pass universal background checks. But House Democrats fail to recognize that every commercial gun sale in the United States already has a background check.
Mr. Speaker, ending gun violence in America is a goal we all share, but H.R. 8 will subject law-abiding gun owners to criminal penalties for simply handing a firearm to another person.
For instance, if you loaned a friend a rifle to go hunting, they could face a year in prison or a $100,000 fine. This is simply ridiculous.
The same would be true, Mr. Speaker, if you loaned an abuse victim a firearm for self-defense. H.R. 1446 would create arbitrary delays for firearm purchases and could allow the FBI to delay a firearm transfer indefinitely.
These bills would do nothing to keep Americans safer and, in fact, threaten the public safety and our constitutional right to bear arms.
Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Texas): Mr. Speaker, in what alternative reality does it make sense for this Congress to take away people’s rights to defend themselves and, at the same time, defund the police? That makes no sense.
What we have seen in the last few days and the last week in this Congress is an effort to punish the law-abiders in this Nation. We have to stop doing this.
If we take away guns from law-abiding citizens, we are doing nothing to reduce crime. Look at Chicago. The law-abiding citizens there do not live in a safe environment. They are able to follow these procedures that you are passing, but it is not going to do anything to stop the violence.
We have to get away from this. We have to stop these laws that do not represent the will of the American people. Let’s stop punishing the law-abiding citizens of the United States and get back to what they sent us here to do.
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Florida): Mr. Speaker, gun crime in the United States is a tragedy for us all. I heard the talk about Sandy Hook, about Columbine, and, yes, about Parkland, which happened in my State. It is a tragedy that we all face.
But the one thing, Mr. Speaker, we all have to remember is that, in each one of these instances, the person who acquired the firearm that committed this tragedy acquired it lawfully, or they stole the weapons from somebody else. This bill would not change any of those tragedies.
If anything, what this bill does, it puts more burden on law-abiding Americans and does whittle away and strip their constitutional right to bear arms. You see, the issue is much more about mental health than it is about the ability to acquire firearms.
For this body to unilaterally make it significantly more difficult for a law-abiding citizen to acquire a firearm, which is their constitutional, God-given right, is this body acting outside of its authority under the United States Constitution.
Mr. Speaker, in short, this bill will not fix the tragedies that we face. Unfortunately, laws don’t fix most of the tragedies that we face as Americans. What fixes them is dealing with the human condition that, unfortunately, inhabits people in our country. We should be working on that, not stripping the constitutional rights from our fellow citizens.
Rep. August Pfluger (R–Texas): Mr. Speaker, I rise today as a Texan, a constitutional conservative, and in strong opposition not only to the amendments but to H.R. 8, a bill that would impose so-called universal background checks and gut the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners throughout this country.
We all mourn the loss of innocent lives from gun violence that has happened in my district and in those around the country. No family should ever have to endure such tragic and terrible unnecessary loss.
But the truth is that this legislation does nothing to address the root causes of gun violence and may do little to actually prevent criminals from obtaining guns, as has previously been said during this debate.
What will be prevented, though? Your ability to lend your neighbor afirearm if there are reports of break-ins; the ability of your suicidal friend or family member to ask you to remove their firearms from their home; or if a colleague comes to you and says that they are trapped in an abusive relationship and scared for their life, you could face a $100,000 fine or prison time for lending out your gun for self-defense.
If we are going to effect real change, we don’t need to tack additional restrictions on law-abiding citizens. We need to look at the root causes and have a transparent and open debate here to talk about mental health and the proper enforcement of laws that we already have.
This is yet another example of Federal overreach, another example of the erosion of our rights, and a slippery slope that will strip all Americans of our Second Amendment rights as outlined in the Constitution.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote “no” on the amendment and the bill.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania): Mr. Speaker, just yesterday afternoon at 3 o’clock in Atlanta, an armed robber walked into Chick-fil-A to rob the place.
Now, think about that. You are in there with your children, getting a meal in the middle of the day, and somebody comes in with a gun, puts your life at risk. Everybody in the place is at risk.
Did that guy get a background check to get his firearm? We don’t know yet, but odds are he didn’t because most of these crimes that are committed with a gun are with people who don’t — guess what? I have a news flash — they don’t follow the law.
Robbing the Chick-fil-A at 3 o’clock in the afternoon in Atlanta is not in accordance with the law. But I will tell you what happened. An armed citizen stopped the robbery using his firearm, a legally obtained firearm, and saved everybody in the place.
Do you know who is happy? The people in the Chick-fil-A are happy that the guy who bought the gun legally was there to save them and their children. That is who is happy.
This legislation, Mr. Speaker, disarms that person who operated his firearm legally. That is what this legislation does. It disarms America. It says to the criminal: Keep on not abiding by the law. You got your weapon illegally. You are going to keep doing it.
It doesn’t stop them from doing anything. What it does do is it stops the guy who is going to get his firearm legally and end the crime in his community. That is who it stops.
No charges are pending on that individual in Atlanta who stopped that crime. No charges are pending. He followed the law. This bill, Mr. Speaker, seeks to punish people who want to follow the law, and that is what is going to happen.
Do you know what is going to happen when we do this? There are going to be more crimes. There are going to be more unauthorized weapons out there, and there are going to be less people out there defending themselves and our community. That is what is happening. Mr. Speaker, I urge a “no” vote on this.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio): Mr. Speaker, I think part of the point of the gentleman from Pennsylvania was this system is a mess. Over 110,000 people were denied access to a firearm when they went through the background check, but only 12 were prosecuted. Mr. Massie led off our debate by talking about this one. That tells you one or two things.
I think the main takeaway is, how many people were falsely denied? Or if they weren’t, why weren’t more people prosecuted?
If the focus is to make sure the bad guy doesn’t get the gun, holy cow, over 110,000 were denied access to a firearm, not given a clearance. Yet only 12 prosecuted?
If you guys want to work with us on that issue, we are happy to do that. In fact, we have supported that and talked about that, but you don’t want to do that.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania): Mr. Speaker, we lament the death of our good friend, Mr. Crist’s constituent, Mo. We lament it. We especially lament it because when you are in the military and you are on base and you are in uniform, you are prohibited from carrying a firearm. Think about that. Those in our country most well trained to use a firearm lose their lives because they cannot defend themselves, as a regulation by the DOD that says they cannot carry a firearm on base. That is why Mo is not here.
Sure, there is a Saudi terrorist in town that is killing people, but Mo could have stopped that if Mo were allowed to use his skills provided by the taxpayers and desired by him. He wanted to serve his country, he wanted to serve his community, and he should have been allowed to.
This bill is more of the same thing, disallowing American citizens to defend themselves. Unfortunately, Mo is a prime example.