The Lead

In Washington Post op-ed, Pa.’s Ryan Costello’s urges Republicans to vote ‘yes’ on gun background checks bill

By: - February 26, 2019 6:30 am

Former U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa. WikiMedia Commons

With the U.S. House poised to vote on a major piece of gun-control legislation, a former Republican congressman from suburban Philadelphia is urging his onetime GOP colleagues to get on board and support it.

Pending legislation that would require mandatory background checks on all gun sales “is not only consistent with the Second Amendment; it’s also as common-sense as any piece of legislation we voted on during our combined eight years in Congress,” former Reps. Ryan Costello, of Pennsylvania, and Carlos Curbelo, of Florida, wrote in an op-ed published by The Washington Post on Monday.

The piece, headlined, “We are conservatives. We urge our fellow Republicans to support this gun safety bill,” comes as the majority-Democrat House prepares, for the first time in “two decades,” to take up “major stand-alone gun safety legislation in the form of H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019,” Costello and Curbello wrote.

As it is currently written, the legislation would “require a background check for every gun sale — not just for sales by licensed dealers, as the Brady Act has required since it went into effect in 1994, but also for unlicensed sales between strangers who meet online or at gun shows. It is a common-sense way to fully carry out the spirit of that existing federal law,” the two former lawmakers wrote.

“This bill doesn’t take away anyone’s guns, create a firearms registry or threaten the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. It simply ensures that people who would fail a background check if they attempted to buy a gun from a licensed dealer in a brick-and-mortar store can’t go to an unlicensed online seller to buy a gun without the check,” they added.

If it’s signed into law, the bill “would represent a critical step in the right direction, at a time when more and more Americans are touched by gun violence, and when people’s anger with Washington dysfunction is at an all-time high,” they wrote.

For Republicans who might fear inciting the wrath of the National Rifle Association by supporting the bill, Costello and Curbelo urged them to put aside any such concerns.

“if the past election cycle proved anything, it’s that its grip on our politics is breaking. For the first time in almost 20 years, the gun lobby’s favorability ratings are underwater across the country. In many races, particularly in suburban districts and among critical voting blocs including women and young people, the NRA’s support was a liability for candidates,” wrote Costello and Curbelo, who are now “strategic advisors” to the pro-gun control Everytown for Gun Safety.

Costello represented Pennsylvania’s former 6th Congressional District from 2015-2019. He opted against running for re-election in 2018.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.