February 28, 2019

Moulton Statement on the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019

Moulton is an original co-sponsor of H.R. 8, the first major piece of gun safety policy to pass in the House since 1994.

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a major gun safety bill for the first time since 1994. Representative Seth Moulton (MA-06) is an original co-sponsor of the The Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8), which would require background checks for the most common ways Americans buy guns.

After the vote, Moulton made the following statement:  

“For decades, Congress has failed to muster the political courage to protect our nation from gun violence. The bill that passed today would expand background check requirements to the most common ways someone can buy a gun--an idea almost every American supports. After so many moments of silence, today’s vote is the first of what must be many more moments of action to protect Americans from gun violence.

Our nation should commend the Republicans who joined with Democrats today for their moral courage. Their constituents will be safer because they did the right thing today so long as the Senate and the President follow their examples.”  

Earlier this week, ahead of the vote, Moulton challenged every Member of Congress to find the political courage to pass the bill. Audio and video of his speech is available here.

Specifically, The Bipartisan Background Checks Act would require unlicensed firearms sellers to conduct a background check on every American who buys a gun at a gun show, through an online sale, or elsewhere. It also requires background checks for gun transfers. The bill makes some exemptions for families where one family member gives another family member a gun, and for law enforcement and military personnel who need a gun for official duty. A report this week in in The New York Times noted that last year the federal background check system prevented 88,000 gun sales to prohibited buyers including criminals and domestic abusers.

According to Bloomberg this concept is supported by most Americans--even gun owners. One month after last year’s attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where 17 students were killed and 14 others were wounded, Bloomberg surveyed Americans about this idea. They found that 69 percent of NRA members, 78 percent of gun owners who were not members of the NRA and 89 percent of respondents who did not own guns supported expanded background checks.

Later today, the House will vote on The Enhanced Background Checks Act (H.R. 1112), which would provide the FBI at minimum 20 days to conduct background checks on gun buyers when a purchaser cannot be automatically approved or denied. Current law allows a purchaser to pick up a firearm if FBI cannot conclude their investigation in three days.

In 2015, a white supremacist in Charlestown, South Carolina exploited this loophole to buy a gun and murder nine congregants of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The background check process was unable to locate a drug possession charge in his criminal history that would have prevented this sale during the three-day period. The man picked up his gun on the fourth day.

Moulton will vote in favor of the bill.