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Tonko Votes to Advance Major Popular Gun Safety Bill

Bipartisan background checks measure requires nearly all gun transfers to go through licensed firearm dealers

WASHINGTONCongressman Paul Tonko joined more than 200 colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives today to pass H.R. 8: the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would require every gun purchase or transfer to undergo a full background check through a licensed firearm dealer and prevent individuals barred from gun possession from obtaining a gun.

“Today’s vote marks a major turning point in our fight to end America’s gun violence epidemic,” said Tonko. “After every deadly tragedy in the past, Congress has looked for any excuse to ignore the millions of Americans calling for common-sense gun safety reforms. That stops now. This bill is a first step from a newly-elected Democratic majority to in implement lifesaving reforms that are already supported by some 90 percent of Americans. I implore the Senate to approve this measure without delay. Congress can and must do more to stop this uniquely American epidemic of violence and inaction and instead move forward with real solutions that will save lives and prevent further tragedy.”

Since its inception, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has prevented some 3 million convicted felons, domestic abusers and people with violent histories from purchasing a gun. A recent study found that more than 80 percent of firearms used for criminal purposes were obtained without a background check.  

H.R. 8: Bipartisan Background Checks Act:

  • Requires a background check for every gun sale or transfer, with exceptions for gifts to family members and certain temporary transfers such as hunting, self-defense, and target shooting
  • Closes the background check loophole to prevent those unable to purchase weapons under federal law from obtaining one through other means
  • Extends the requirement of background checks to unlicensed gun sellers in addition to existing federal law mandating checks for licensed sellers
    • Unlicensed gun sellers would meet buyers at a licensed gun dealer, who would then run a background check

Rep. Tonko co-sponsors H.R. 8 and has been a longtime supporter of common-sense gun safety legislation. He has also supported several pieces of common-sense gun legislation, including cosponsoring an Assault Weapons Ban, the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act, and other measures designed to keep Americans safe. He held a student town hall on gun violence prevention in 2018 in the wake of the Parkland mass shooting.

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