Rep. Torres Votes for Lifesaving, Commonsense Gun Violence Prevention Bills

Mar 10, 2021
Press

Amendment Proposed by Rep. Torres to strengthen background check 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Ritchie Torres voted to pass H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, two commonsense gun violence prevention measures to require background checks on all gun sales and close the Charleston Loophole that allowed the hate crime at Mother Emanuel AME Church.  In the 116th Congress, the House passed versions of these two bills in a strong, bipartisan way.

“In the South Bronx and across the country, the epidemic of gun violence exacts a deadly toll, ending the lives of an average of 100 Americans each day,” said Rep. Torres. “I’m proud to have voted for the Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8), which includes my amendment to strengthen the background check process. My amendment would ensure that it would not only be illegal for someone to possess a firearm without passing a background check, but also to purchase one.”

These two pieces of legislation include common sense measures to end gun violence and make background checks universal:

  • H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act – which requires a background check for every gun sale or transfer to ensure that individuals already prohibited from gun possession under federal law, such as felons, domestic abusers and those who are considered a danger to themselves or others, are not able to obtain firearms.
  • H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act – which would end the Charleston Loophole that enabled the horrific hate crime at Mother Emanuel AME Church that killed nine innocent people.  The Charleston Loophole currently allows the sale of a firearm to proceed if a background check is not completed within three business days.

These bills have the support of an overwhelming, bipartisan majority of Americans.  Indeed, well over 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks – including 85 percent of gun-owning households, as well as dozens of leading law enforcement, veterans, local government, public health and other groups such as Major Cities Chiefs Association, VoteVets, Police Executive Research Forum, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Hispanic American Police Commanders Association and the American Medical Association.

This bipartisan support is because background checks work.  Since 1994, when background checks were first implemented, they have stopped more than 3 million dangerous people from getting guns.  In 2017 alone, due to background checks, over 170,000 sales were denied – 39 percent of them to convicted felons.  Every day where background checks are used they stop more than 160 felons and some 50 domestic abusers from buying a gun.

Yet, due to existing loopholes that allow unlicensed gun sellers to sell guns without a background check,  the background check system is not working as well as it should, with up to 80 percent of firearms used for criminal purposes currently sold without background checks.  The Charleston Loophole alone allows the sale of hundreds of thousands of guns to potentially dangerous individuals each year.  Cases of the Charleston Loophole exception are particularly common in domestic violence cases.

“Gun safety is a deeply personal issue for me. Growing up in the South Bronx, I was regularly exposed to the horrors of gun violence in my youth. The gun violence epidemic has a simple cause: guns. We need federal laws that will reduce the number of guns and the access to the weapons. I am proud to continue to fight for strong, effective action to help address the epidemic of gun violence in our communities.  

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