Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13) voted to pass H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act— two commonsense gun violence prevention measures to require background checks on all gun sales and close the Charleston Loophole that allowed the hate crime at Mother Emanuel AME Church in 2015. This bill passed on a bipartisan basis in the 116th Congress and is now headed to the Senate again.
“In California and across the country, the epidemic of gun violence results in the loss of an average of 100 lives each day,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “Tragically, throughout the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis, the gun violence crisis has only grown worse. While gun violence impacts all Americans, communities of color are especially devastated by our nation’s lax gun laws. Passing these two critical gun violence prevention bills is a long overdue step in our fight to end this senseless violence. On behalf of my constituents and every victim, survivor and family, I will continue to fight for strong, effective action to help address the epidemic of gun violence in our communities. Enough is enough.”
These two pieces of legislation include commonsense measures to end gun violence and make background checks universal:
H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act – which requires a background check for every gun sale or transfer to ensure that individuals already prohibited from gun possession under federal law, such as felons, domestic abusers and those who are considered a danger to themselves or others, are not able to obtain firearms.
H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act – which would end the Charleston Loophole that enabled the horrific hate crime at Mother Emanuel AME Church that killed nine innocent people. The Charleston Loophole currently allows the sale of a firearm to proceed if a background check is not completed within three business days.
Since 1994, when background checks were first implemented, they have stopped more than 3 million dangerous people from getting guns. In 2017 alone, due to background checks, over 170,000 sales were denied – 39 percent of them to convicted felons. Every day where background checks are used they stop more than 160 felons and some 50 domestic abusers from buying a gun.
Yet, due to existing loopholes that allow unlicensed gun sellers to sell guns without a background check, the background check system is not working as well as it should, with up to 80 percent of firearms used for criminal purposes currently sold without background checks. The Charleston Loophole alone allows the sale of hundreds of thousands of guns to potentially dangerous individuals each year. Cases of the Charleston Loophole exception are particularly common in domestic violence cases.
These bills have the support of an overwhelming, bipartisan majority of Americans. Well over 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks – including 85 percent of gun-owning households, as well as dozens of leading law enforcement, veterans, local government, public health and other groups such as Major Cities Chiefs Association, VoteVets, Police Executive Research Forum, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Hispanic American Police Commanders Association and the American Medical Association.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and Chair of the subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. She serves as Co-Chair of the Steering & Policy Committee, former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chair Emeritus of the Progressive Caucus, Co-Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Health Task Force, and Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus. She also serves as Chair of the Majority Leader’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity. As a member of the House Democratic Leadership, she is the highest ranking African American woman in the U.S. Congress
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