When is a background check mandatory for gun owners?
Only eight House Republicans support a “bipartisan” bill that would require an FBI background check before buying a gun in most instances. U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, is one of them.
In a letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, Buchanan urged the U.S. Senate’s GOP leader to hold a vote in his chamber and send the bill to President Donald Trump’s desk.
“Like you, I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, but our laws cannot be effective if there are gaping loopholes that allow criminals and deranged individuals to purchase firearms over the internet or at gun shows without background checks,” Buchanan wrote.
The letter came just days after McConnell said he would consider allowing the Senate to vote on the Bipartisan Background Checks Act when the Senate gets back in session next month.
It still marks a significant delay in acting on the House of Representative’s passage of the bill, which came back in February by a 240-190 vote, with most representative voting along party lines.
Since then, there have been 211 instances of gun violence involving four of more victims, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, an independent group that tracks media reports of shootings across the nation. Of those 211 shootings, 41 of them have been fatal.
If the bill is signed into law, it would require potential gun buyers in almost every instance to pass an FBI background check before purchasing their weapon. It includes exceptions for transfers between “close family members,” law enforcement and hunters.
Under current federal law, a background check is only required if the gun is purchased from a licensed dealer, but that can be avoided by purchasing guns online or at gun shows.
Buchanan also noted in his letter that he would like to see Congress consider red flag systems to prevent individuals who might be deemed unstable or dangerous from purchasing firearms, citing similar legislation adopted in Florida.
“Disturbing revelations about the shooters in El Paso, Dayton and Parkland highlight the need to allow courts to issue temporary orders barring individuals from possessing guns based on some showing of imminent danger or threats, while providing important due process protections,” said Buchanan.
Following recent mass shootings, McConnell has acknowledged that gun laws need to be updated, “to help protect our communities without infringing on Americans’ constitutional rights.” However, a date has not been set for a vote in the Senate.