Eight years after she almost lost her life in a shooting, former Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords returned to the Capitol to introduce H.R. 8, a bill to require background checks for all private sales, effectively closing loopholes that allow firearms to be purchased at gun shows and online with minimal oversight. Under current federal law, only licensed gun dealers must submit background checks to the FBI.
The bill is limited to background checks and does not contain language regarding assault rifles or high-capacity magazines, a move designed to make the bill more palatable to Republicans, since they control the Senate and the presidency. However, the decision to omit an assault rifle ban limits the bill’s efficacy. Most high-profile shootings—Parkland, Pittsburgh, Thousand Oaks, Las Vegas—used an assault rifle and all the shooters passed their background checks. Regardless, this is an important step forward for gun safety.
The slew of mass shootings has changed Americans’ attitudes towards gun control. According to a February 2018 Quinnipiac poll, 97% of Americans support universal background checks. Candidates like Lucy McBath, Lizzie Fletcher, and Jason Crow boasted their F-ratings from the NRA and all won their respective House races.
Media Resources: Politico 1/4/19; Huffington Post 1/8/19; The New York Times 1/8/19; Feminist Newswire 3/26/18; The Hill 2/20/18; National Public Radio 11/13/18