‘Criminals do not comply with the law…’
(AFP) The US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation that would expand background checks to virtually all firearm sales, while also infringing on the Second Amendment rights of millions of Americans.
While the effort managed to draw a handful of Republicans and was deemed a historic step by newly empowered Democrats and gun control advocates, it is unlikely to advance in the Republican-controlled Senate.
“The Democrats think just saying ‘background checks’ makes this a good bill,” said Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, “but this bill makes criminals out of law-abiding citizens.”
The Louisiana House member, who survived the shooting by a crazed gunman during a practice for the Republican congressional baseball team, outlined several examples of how the proposed law would diminish the Constitutional right to bear arms:
Under this bill, if you loan your gun to a friend and he wants to go to the shooting range to see if this is the right kind of gun to protect himself, which he has a right to do under the Second Amendment, that act would make you a criminal subject to a year in jail and up to a $100,000 fine. We tried to fix that problem, and Democrats shut us out.
Under this bill, a woman who is a victim of domestic violence might have to wait 20 business days to get a gun to protect herself if the [background check] system isn’t working. If she has a temporary restraining order and tries to borrow a firearm for self-defense, the friend who loans her the gun would face a year in prison and up to a $100,000 fine. One of my colleagues, a victim of domestic violence, offered an amendment to fix that and Democrats rejected it.
Democrats say there is an exemption for hunting in the bill, but it’s written so vaguely that if you want to loan your gun to a hunting buddy, you might need to bring along your attorney to find out if loaning a shotgun to your friend makes you a criminal. These are law-abiding citizens.
Americans use firearms for self-defense. That is the basis of the Second Amendment. Our Founding Fathers believed every American had a right to defend themselves. Every day, on average, in this country guns are used by good people to defend themselves against bad people and [this bill] is going to make it harder for them to get access to these guns.
This is a bad gun control bill that does nothing but criminalize law-abiding citizens.
Should it become law, the bill would expand criminal background checks to nearly all gun sales, closing loopholes in federal law requiring such inspections when firearms are sold by licensed dealers but allowing private citizens to sell and transfer guns to one another without any background check.
Federal laws currently require the checks only for sales by federally licensed dealers. The new legislation would ensure buyers are vetted for private sales online and at gun shows.
Several Democrats praised the legislation while offering reminders that in recent years, with Republicans at the helm, the House took little action to address gun violence.
“Today we’re offering more than thoughts and prayers,” Congresswoman Susan Davis of California said, adding that strengthening the background check system is a “small but very important first step.”
The 240-190 vote prompted applause on the House floor and from the guest galleries.
Democrat John Lewis, a civil rights icon, recounted multiple mass murders in various US cities in recent years — Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, Orlando and others — and noted how the tragedies prompted grieving parents and students to demand action.
“Today we say to those who begged, pleaded for us to act, that we see you, we feel your pain, we heard your cries and we are going to answer — today, now.”
However, if the bill had been law before those acts of evil, it still wouldn’t have prevented those shooters from their murderous assaults.
“By definition, criminals do not comply with the law,” said Rep. Doug LaMalfa, a California Republican. “So what makes my Democrat colleagues think that tightening background checks on law-abiding Americans will decrease gun violence? Criminals get their guns from the black market, the so-called dark web, or by other illicit means, and none of the major shootings in this country would have been prevented by these laws.”
The National Rifle Association, a major gun rights lobby facing the most sustained opposition in its history amid a shifting of the political landscape, opposes the measure, warning it will punish law-abiding citizens.
House Republican Doug Collins of Georgia said it was “foolish” to believe the legislation would make America safer.
It “would not have stopped a single mass shooting,” he said.
© Agence France-Presse. Liberty Headlines editor Paul Chesser contributed.