LGBTQ gun control activists celebrated passage of the Bipartisan Background Checks Act in the Democrat-controlled House, but express skepticism whether the broadly supported policy will become law soon.
John Feinblatt, the openly gay president of Everytown for Gun Safety, praised Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for making background checks a priority after Democrats seized control of the House. HR 8 passed in the House on Wednesday.
“We applaud Speaker Pelosi and the bipartisan coalition of House members who supported this bill for stepping up and doing their part to close the giant — and deadly — loopholes in America’s background checks law,” he said in a statement.
“As the fight moves to the Senate, Everytown is mobilizing our 5.7 million supporters to urge lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to put public safety first and require background checks on all gun sales.”
Gays Against Guns, a group that has been frustrated by the inaction on gun policy since the 2016 Pulse massacre, has lobbied Congress repeatedly on background checks. Most recently the group protested in Washington to meet with leaders about passing the background checks bill and to protest at Senate offices. Eight members were arrested during the “Our Hearts Are Broken” protest marking the anniversary of the Parkland shooting in Florida.
In a statement, the group expressed cautious optimism while celebrating House passage.
“While we knew that HR8 would pass the Democratic-led House when it came up for a vote, we went to DC to put pressure on Republican senators to (Blunt, Burr, Rubio) to pass HR8 in the Senate. We will see,” the statement reads.
The Bipartisan Background Checks Act will require background checks on private and internet sales, not just ones made through licensed gun dealers. It provides exceptions for transfers between immediate family members and allows for guns to be loaned specifically for hunting trips and gun range use.
Everytown said the legislation is especially important in an era when e-commerce has become the norm for many commercial transactions. The last time any major changes were made to gun control laws was in 1994, when internet sales looked very different. Everytown cited a recent investigation that showed nearly 1.2 million ads on Armslist.com selling firearms with no requirement for background checks. The same study found one in nine gun buyers would fail a background check if conducted.
Gays Against Guns predicted more effective activism will be what it takes to make the background check bill become law.
“One idea is to make HR8 a talking point for the 2020 election. Demand that Democratic and Republican candidates take a position on HR8,” the group said in a statement.
“Will they work to get it passed in the Senate? Will they sign the bill into law when it comes to their desk? Their willingness to talk about it or not will determine your vote. In effect, they must articulate their commitment to ending the gun violence crisis.”