The majority-Democrat is expected to vote Wednesday on the first, major piece of gun-control legislation in two decades: A bill that would require universal background checks on all gun purchases.
Writing in The Washington Post earlier this week, former U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa., observed that the bill, as currently written, 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,” Costello, and his co-author, former GOP U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, of Florida, wrote in The Post.
The vote is an encouraging one – because, at least, the House is taking a vote on a gun-control bill. The bill is expected to pass, with some slender Republican support. In fact, as The Hill reports, that five Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill. It’s no secret that background checks poll well – even among gun-owners.
As CNN reports, Democrats are hoping a successful House vote will pressure the Senate to move a bill of its own. U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is among the senators who have urged a vote on a background checks bill – if the opportunity ever arose. President Donald Trump has already threatened a veto, The Hill reported.
Opponents of the bill, who include the National Rifle Association, and nearly every Republican member of Congress, took to Twitter to go on the attack. A quick inspection of the posts is a study in the Washington D.C. groupthink that takes hold when any major issue is up for a vote.
Here, for instance, is U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District, who’s fully wrapping himself in the warm embrace of the NRA.
We couldn't have said it better than @MikeKellyPA! So-called "universal" background check legislation is just a universal annoyance that infringes on our right to self-defense. Time is running out and we need you to contact your reps. → https://t.co/WOdftwRpeN #HR8 #HR1112 #2A pic.twitter.com/iNLf03CqtZ
— NRA (@NRA) February 26, 2019
Kelly piled back on Wednesday morning:
The Democrat gun bills before us this week wouldn't prevent mass shootings or gun crime generally, but would create obstacles for law-abiding Americans to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights and turn gun owners into criminals. Great Op-Ed by @RepMullin https://t.co/tLFYdxzpiK
— Rep. Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyPA) February 27, 2019
Here’s U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-11th District, trotting out a familiar line of attack:
Democrats are trying, yet again, to score political points while punishing law-abiding gun owners. H.R. 8 does nothing to prevent dangerous criminals who are intent on breaking the law. Read more: https://t.co/TLQU1wYSVx
— House Republicans (@HouseGOP) February 26, 2019
Which is not to say there isn’t some of it on the Democratic side as well:
— Dwight Evans (@RepDwightEvans) February 26, 2019
Here’s U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th District:
Today the House makes history. We will hold a vote on #HR8, a bipartisan bill to expand background checks & help save lives. Millions of people have raised their voices in support of universal background checks. We vote #ForThePeople and will continue working to #EndGunViolence. pic.twitter.com/dkkgKdgDsv
— Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (@RepDean) February 27, 2019