Spotlight: U.S. House of Representatives passes biggest gun control measures in decades

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-01 19:36:41|Editor: xuxin
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by Peter Mertz

DENVER, United States, March 1 (Xinhua) -- Gun control groups across America were celebrating Thursday after the U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills on stricter gun control in two days.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the House's vote "historic" and hailed the legislation as "a long-overdue, common-sense action to end the epidemic of gun violence in America."

The White House responded that President Donald Trump will veto Thursday's bill because it would impose "burdensome requirements."


The United States is known worldwide for its slack gun control laws. Since 2012 mass shootings have been rampant across the country, especially in public schools.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded 39,773 American gun deaths in 2017 and more than 1,200 children were killed with guns last year.

As mass murders increase, so do politically-active organizations across the country demanding modest gun control.

Groups like Everytown for Gun Safety claims to have 5.7 million supporters. John Feinblatt, president of Everytown, said in a statement Wednesday that they will "urge Senate lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to put public safety first and require background checks on all gun sales."

On Thursday, freshman Congresswoman Lucy McBath, whose son was killed in Parkland, joined fellow House Judiciary Committee members to approve the bill that expands background checks required for firearm purchases.

"As a survivor of gun violence myself, I refuse to let my colleagues stand here and devalue the importance that this bill has," she said.

Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, called the House's vote a victory helped by a "grassroots army of volunteers and gun violence survivors."


On Wednesday, the National Rifle Association (NRA) called the second House bill "extreme," saying it "will make criminals out of law-abiding Americans." The NRA's website Thursday featured a headline saying "Pelosi wants to take away your guns by 2020."

"Now we'll watch the NRA amp up the fear and lies," said Washington policy analyst David B. Richardson.

"Which Republican (GOP) politicians will resist the NRA's sleazy money and stop the murders?" He questioned, referring to a number of GOP politicians who receive large campaign contributions from the NRA.

Actually, NRA members are 77 percent Republican, Pew data in 2017 showed. The White House has already threatened to veto the bills.

Chris Cox, executive director of NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement that the group "will continue to fight to preserve the constitutionally protected right to self-defense."

"More significantly, this is a litmus test - Republicans who vote against this modest gun control measure face big backlash in the 2020 elections," Richardson told Xinhua.

Indeed, an overwhelming 92 percent of Americans favor stricter gun control measures, and even 69 percent of conservative NRA members support universal background checks, according to Gallup and Bloomberg surveys in 2018.


"Nearly four years ago, nine innocent people were shot and murdered by a man who was only able to obtain his gun through a dangerous loophole in our laws," Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement.

Brown was referring to a "loophole" that allowed a white supremacist shooter in 2015 to get a gun and murder nine black worshipers at Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina.

A delayed background check allowed the attacker's firearm purchase after the required three-day review period had expired.

Over 35,000 guns were transferred to prohibited purchasers between 2008 and 2017 because of the three-day rule that allows gun transfers before background checks can be completed, data shows.

These sales are eight times more likely to involve a prohibited purchaser than those with a completed background check, according to the Brady campaign.

"We need to provide our law enforcement agents with the time and resources they need to properly insure that guns are not falling into dangerous hands," Brown added.

Wednesday's bill would expand background checks to include firearm purchases at gun shows and over the Internet. It was approved 240-190.

Thursday's background check bill, which passed 228-198, would extend the number of days government authorities have to complete a background check before a gun sale. But the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate is expected to kill both bills.