A coalition of House and Senate Democrats on Thursday urged their Republican senators to support a pair of bills that would expand gun background checks.
The bills would mark the most sweeping action on gun control since Democrats won all three branches of government. The House passed the bills Thursday morning, after the Democrats spoke.
Gun control is one of the most divisive political issues, but at a press conference the Democrats pushed their colleagues to send these bills to the Senate and, ultimately, President Biden’s desk.
The bills have enough support to clear the House, but will face a tougher challenge in the Senate, where Democrats have a razor-thin majority.
A similar House effort two years ago failed to make it to the Senate.
On Thursday, Democrats warned their Republican colleagues they could pay a price at the ballot box if they don’t support it.
“If Republicans stand in the way, they will pay a price both morally and politically,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, was more direct.
“It challenges the conscience of Congress not to pass this legislation,” she said.
The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, would require background checks for all firearm sales or transfers in the country. Background checks are not currently required for sales and transfers by unlicensed and private sellers.
Three Republicans — Fred Upton of Michigan, Chris Smith of New Jersey and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania — have agreed to co-sponsor the bill.
Other Republicans have slammed the bill. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican, has urged members of his party to vote against the legislation.
“These bills were created in bad faith. They are partisan shams that rob us of our freedoms,” said Virginia Foxx, North Carolina Republican.
The second bill, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, would close a loophole that allows licensed gun sales to go through before a background check is finished.
The loophole has been dubbed the “Charleston Loophole” because it is how Dylann Roof was able to get a gun before he killed nine people at a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015.
Sen. Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer vowed the bills will receive a vote in the upper chamber.
“They will be on the floor of the Senate and we will see where everyone stands,” he said. “A vote is needed, not thoughts and prayers.”