US House passes two gun control bills

The US House on Thursday passed a pair of bills that will add new background check requirements for gun transfers between private parties and extend the background check period.

The first bill, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, passed by a 227-203 vote with eight Republicans backing the measure and one Democrat broke party ranks to oppose it, Xinhua news agency reported.

The bill would require “a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer” to first take possession of the gun while a background check is being conducted, mending a loophole in current law where unlicensed and private sellers are not required to conduct background checks for gun transfers. However, it offered an exemption for guns transferred as gifts between couples.

While proponents of the bill hailed it as a necessary step to prevent the firearms from falling into the wrong hands and reduce gun violence, critics blasted it as an infringement on Second Amendment rights and would do little to curb violent shooting incidents.

The second bill, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, passed in a 219-210 vote with two Republicans voting yes and two Democrats voting no. It would extend the review period in which a background check can be conducted before purchasing a firearm from the current three days to 10 days.

The Joe Biden administration backed both bills, which nonetheless are expected to face an uphill battle in the Senate, where they may not reach the 60-vote threshold for passage.

Shortly before the bills’ passage in the House, Senate Democrats vowed to take quick action, with Senator Richard Blumenthal expecting the chamber to take up the legislation “soon”.