HRC reiterated its call for Congress to advance H.R. 8 — the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. Scheduled for markup today in the House Judiciary Committee, the common-sense legislation would close the dangerous gap in federal law that makes it possible for individuals who are prohibited from gun possession, like domestic abusers and persons with violent criminal histories, to have easy access to firearms. For decades, LGBTQ people have been a target for bias-motivated violence, and easy access to deadly weapons has compounded this threat.
“The LGBTQ community and other communities disproportionately targeted by hate violence cannot wait any longer for common-sense gun safety legislation,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “It’s far past time that Congress take action and help save lives by closing the dangerous loophole in background checks for gun sales. One more death is one too many, and this common-sense, bipartisan measure would be a critical first step in addressing the crisis of gun violence impacting our communities.”
Under current federal law, only licensed gun dealers are required to conduct a background check before completing a gun sale. However, a loophole permits individuals who are not licensed dealers to sell guns without conducting a background check and with no questions asked. This is a significant gap in the law that allows individuals who are prohibited from gun possession to evade that law and buy guns through private sale transactions at gun shows, online, or anywhere else.
In 2016, after a gunman killed 49 people - most of them LGBTQ and Latinx - in Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub, HRC’s Board of Directors adopted a resolution that addresses both the epidemic of hate that has fueled anti-LGBTQ-motivated murder, assault and discrimination as well as common-sense gun violence prevention policies that would help keep the LGBTQ community safe. The resolution established HRC’s organizational position that the safety of LGBTQ people in the United States requires the adoption of common-sense gun violence prevention measures, including limiting access to assault-style rifles, expanding background checks, and limiting the ability of those with violent records to access guns.
Requiring a background check for every gun sale is a common-sense policy supported by 97 percent of Americans, including both Democrats and Republicans, law enforcement officials, and NRA members.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, more than 33,000 gun deaths happen every year.