Surprise! The House Actually Managed to Pass a Gun Safety Bill

Written by Ian Millhiser

The United States House of Representatives just passed a small appropriation that will improve the accuracy of the national database used to conduct background checks prior to many gun sales. It’s a modest step forward, given significant loopholes in the federal background system which allow many felons to evade background checks altogether — Congress has not yet addressed these loopholes. Nevertheless, this appropriation is a significant victory for supporters of gun regulation during an era when the National Rifle Association appears to have a veto power over legislation.

The guns provision that passed the House, which was attached as an amendment to a larger appropriations bill that also passed early Friday morning, adds an additional $19.5 million in federal grant money which states may use to improve their submissions to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. According to Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), one of the lead sponsors of this amendment, “records for at least 2.5 million fugitives weren’t entered into the NICS system” in five states — potentially enabling these individuals to illegally purchase a gun. Six states have “fewer than 30 total records in the NICS system,” and “12 states have submitted fewer than 100 mental health records to the NICS system.”

In addition to passing this amendment, the House also included a provision requiring the FBI to “report on the progress states and pertinent federal agencies are making toward submitting records to the NICS system each year,” according to the Center for American Progress’ Arkadi Gerney.

The NRA was officially neutral on Thompson’s amendment, although this is actually a step back from their earlier support for a robust background check system. In 1999, after the Columbine High School mass shooting, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre told Congress that “it’s reasonable to provide mandatory instant background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere, for anyone.” Other gun groups, including Gun Owners of America, opposed the amendment.

This post originally appeared on ThinkProgress

Photo Credit: Talk Radio News Service via Flickr


Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Karen H.
Karen H4 years ago

When politicians like Marco Rubio are accepting campaign funds from the NRA, we can't expect much progress.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H4 years ago

Shocking that they even bothered. I guess they are trying to pretend to care because of the elections coming up.

Pam Bacon
Pamela Bacon4 years ago

"prior to many gun sales"
"which states may use"

Loopholes still abound. I wonder how many states will bother? Especially those where gun rights extremists abound.............

But at least it is something.

Eric Lees
Eric Lees4 years ago

A small step to eventually keep mentally ill from buying guns.

@Vasu, results can be misleading, it's all in how the studies filter the data. It's all in the details.

Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

This problem is finally formally addressed

Alfred Donovan
Past Member 4 years ago


Vasu M.
.4 years ago

The logic of gun control can best be understood by considering the analogy of the automobile. A car is a potentially lethal weapon. To drive a car, one must be trained, licensed, and have that license periodically renewed. And a car is designed solely as a means of transportation. Guns, on the other hand, are deliberately designed to kill people. It is not unreasonable to demand their regulation.

There is a popular myth that handgun ownership makes people safer. In reality, the New England Journal of Medicine reports that a handgun in the home is 43 times more likely to kill the owner, a family member, or a friend than it is to kill an intruder. Over 75 percent of firearm deaths in a typical year involve handguns. The FBI Uniform Crime Statistics Report says that nationally, there were 38,317 firearm deaths in 1992, but fewer than 300 justifiable homicides.

Another myth is that gun control laws don t make a difference. In reality, strict handgun regulation saves lives. In Washington, D.C., a tougher gun law actually reduced homicides by 25 percent through the mid-1980s. Again, the New England Journal of Medicine reports that 47 lives were saved in Washington, D.C., in a typical year studied, because of that city's handgun ban.

Most other industrialized nations have virtual bans on handgun sales. In 1990, handguns were used in the homicides of 13 people in Sweden, 91 in Switzerland, 87 in Japan, 22 in Great Britain, and 68 in Canada, compared to 10,567 in the United S

Vasu M.
.4 years ago

Lethal Logic: Exploding the Myths That Paralyze American Gun Policy, by Dennis A. Henigan (Potomac Books, 2009)

"Henigan effectively disarms the gun lobby's arguments with common sense. Lethal Logic will make it tougher for spineless politicians to hide behind the NRA's superficial slogans and rationality-defying spin. A must-read for every American who longs to bring sanity to our nations gun laws."

--Ariana Huffington

"Dennis Henigan has long been one of the nation's leading thinkers on the gun violence issue. In Lethal Logic, he has given us a clear roadmap toward destruction of the arguments of the gun lobby. This book will save lives."

--Sarah Brady

"Lethal Logic offers a clear and thoughtful explanation of the methods and tactics used by the NRA to block commonsense gun laws and their effect on the political process."

--Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY)

Vasu M.
.4 years ago

A gun in one's home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure in a criminal assault or homicide, an attempted or completed suicide, or unintentional shooting than to kill or injure in self-defense. (Kellermann, AL et al, 1998 Journal of Trauma, 42:263-67)

In the U.S., 8 children and teenagers are killed, and more than 47 are injured, by a firearm every day. (CDC, NCHS, December 2006)

The risk of homicide in the home is three times greater in households with guns. (Kellermann, et al, New England Journal of Medicine, 1993)

The risk of suicide is five times greater in households with guns. (Kellermann et al, New England Journal of Medicine, 1992)

A 1990 law banning the sale of "Saturday Night Special" handguns in Maryland was associated with reduced use of these guns by criminals, and a 9% lower rate of firearm homicides in the state between 1990-1998 than would have been expected had there been no law.

Policies that deny handgun purchases to individuals with prior misdemeanor or felony convictions are associated with a decreased risk of subsequent convictions. Misdemeanants who had allowed to purchase handguns prior to the passage of a California state law prohibiting such purchases had a rate of criminal offending 29% higher than that among misdemeanants who were denied handgun purchases after the law took effect.