National and state newspaper editorial boards urge Congress to pass universal background check legislation
February 25, 2019 — As Congress prepares its first gun safety bill in over a decade, H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, editorial boards from publications across the country have voiced their support of H.R. 8, praising it as a needed step to protect Americans from the country’s gun violence epidemic. These editorial boards all agree: It’s time for Congress to pass a bill to require a background check on every gun sale.
Recent public opinion research shows near unanimous support for the measure: 97% of Americans—including 99% of Democrats, 97% of Republicans, and 97% of gun owners—support requiring background checks on all gun sales. The gun death rate in America has reached its highest level in nearly 40 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that in 2017, nearly 40,000 Americans died from gun violence, more than 100 Americans every day.
A SAMPLING OF PUBLICATIONS SUPPORTING UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS
- Washington Post: Democrats are making universal background checks a priority. They’re right to do so. // Editorial Board
“… the national debate on gun safety has been reshaped by activism fueled by the tragedies of lost lives in a South Carolina church, a Florida nightclub, on the Las Vegas Strip, a Florida high school, a Pittsburgh synagogue and too many other places. Senators, particularly those who will run for reelection in 2020, might want to take note of this changed landscape. Gun law reform is no longer the third rail of politics but an issue that helped Democrats win control of the House.
- Bloomberg: A Welcome Push for Gun Background Checks // Editorial Board
“Presuming that the House passes the new background-check bill, after proper vetting, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should promptly schedule a vote in the Senate. With support for the gun lobby waning, and a vibrant, well-informed gun-safety movement gaining force, Republicans have good reason to shift their political calculations on the issue. If McConnell instead defies reason, and public demand, the consequences for his party may be immense.”
- Los Angeles Times: The new Congress should expand gun-sale background checks and ban assault-style rifles // Editorial Board
“But a comprehensive background check system does not imperil gun rights. It helps keep guns out of the hands of people who aren’t supposed to have them — something that even gun owners support. Polls show that eight or nine out of 10 Americans back universal background checks, including 79% of Republicans and 69% of NRA members, according to one poll.”
- Baltimore Sun: The House is finally poised to expand gun background checks. The GOP Senate and president? That’s a different story. // Editorial Board
“Universal background checks, while hardly a panacea for gun violence, are such a common sense protection — in the manner of licensing drivers or requiring prescriptions for powerful drugs — that one would like to assume the measure will be on President Donald Trump’s desk before the end of the week. But that’s not the reality. Instead, Republican support for this and related measures is modest in the House and perhaps even more problematic in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate. As usual, the National Rifle Association is at the forefront of efforts to deep-six attempts to close the so-called Charleston Loophole — as if law-abiding gun owners would be seriously injured if they had to face an effective criminal background check instead of the dysfunctional system in place today.”
- San Francisco Chronicle: Time to force issue on gun background checks // Editorial Board
“For a fleeting moment, it seemed as if the Dec. 14, 2012, slaughter of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School would have been the last straw for members of Congress beholden to the gun lobby. It should have been. But even that massacre in Newtown, Conn., failed to prompt action on the glaring loopholes in the nation’s gun laws. What would it take for Congress to act on something as sensible as requiring background checks on all gun sales?…The bill, HR8, received a push from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, who said: “Gun violence is an epidemic that requires the energy and engagement of the entire nation.” It’s long past time for Washington to focus on a real crisis.”
- San Diego Union-Tribune: Universal gun background checks shouldn’t be controversial // Editorial Board
“After all the gun carnage of recent decades, it shouldn’t be controversial to believe that every single time someone seeks to obtain a firearm, he or she should be appraised for potential for violence. Such a mandate would make America safer — and wouldn’t impede constitutional gun rights.”
- The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA): Thompson poised for victory on gun safety // Editorial Board
“Under Thompson’s bill, those sales, like sales by licensed gun dealers, would require a background check. California already requires background checks on all firearms sales. An analysis of federal data by USA Today ranked California 43rd among the 50 states for gun violence. Thompson’s proposal isn’t a panacea, but it would strike a reasonable balance between gun owners’ rights and public safety in a nation that experiences about 30,000 gun-related deaths every year. The House should pass Thompson’s common-sense legislation and dare the Senate and the president to say no.”
- News-Times (Danbury, CT): Close the loopholes in background checks // Editorial Board
“We believe the bill should go further, or another one be adopted, to close the Charleston loophole. Now, if a licensed gun dealer does not get a response from the FBI on a background check within three days, the sale can go through on the fourth day. Most checks clear within minutes, but because of missteps the 72 hours had lapsed and Dylann Roof in 2015 was able to buy a .45-caliber handgun — even though his felony drug charge should have blocked the sale. Roof used that gun to kill nine people in a Charleston, South Carolina, church. Gun sales should not proceed until the criminal background check is cleared.”
- Gainesville Sun (Gainesville, FL): Demand action to stop deadly shootings // Editorial Board
“Closing loopholes by requiring universal background checks and a more rigorous system for performing checks would be a modest start to improving things. Laws must also be consistent across states to ensure these checks keeps guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and others who may be prone to violence. The sale of large-capacity magazines and the AR-15-style rifles used in several mass shootings in recent years should be banned. These are just a few of the modest measures that should be taken, but far more must be done. With the midterm elections over and new members coming into Congress, it’s time to again demand that lawmakers take meaningful action to prevent gun violence. We’re all to blame if we let things continue like this.”
- Treasure Coast Palm (Treasure Coast, FL): Rep. Mast supports universal background checks for gun sales – and so do we // Editorial Board
“It shouldn’t be provocative to say listen, as law-abiding citizens, we want to know if citizens have gone through the appropriate channels,” Mast said. Of course, we know it will be provocative in some circles. That’s the case with any legislation that enhances gun control in the United States. Opponents will argue this bill makes gun sales more costly for buyers and sellers by requiring them to get licensed or use a third-party dealer to sell firearms. They will argue it’s ineffective because it only applies to law-abiding citizens. We believe the potential downsides are outweighed by the benefits of a more thorough vetting system.”
- Times Union (Albany, NY): A Glimmer of Gun Sanity // Editorial Board
“To suggest that a law must be 100 percent effective to be worthwhile is just silly. What point would there be, then, in any law that people break? We cannot make it impossible for people to harm others. But we can, and should, make it more difficult. The background check bill addresses just one facet of America’s deadly and dangerous relationship with guns. The hope among the bill’s backers is that they may have an easier time lining up support behind one issue, instead of a whole package of safety measures. So yes, this is just a small step on a long road to sensible gun policy. But it’s a step nonetheless.
- Hartford Courant (Hartford, CT): The new Congress should expand gun-sale background checks and ban assault-style rifles // Editorial Board
“The shift of the House of Representatives from Republican to Democratic control offers a glimmer of hope that Congress might actually find a way to pass some common-sense gun bills. Two serious efforts have already begun. One bill, introduced in the House by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and in the Senate by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), would extend mandatory background checks for would-be buyers to nearly every gun sale or transfer in the country. Those checks are designed to keep people who cannot legally own firearms, such as convicted felons, from buying them.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Republicans Support H.R. 8:
- Washington Post: We are conservatives. We urge our fellow Republicans to support this gun safety bill.
“The Bipartisan Background Checks Act is not only consistent with the Second Amendment; it’s also as common-sense as any piece of legislation we voted on during our combined eight years in Congress. What it would do is simple: It would require a background check for every gun sale — not just for sales by licensed dealers, as the Brady Act has required since it went into effect in 1994, but also for unlicensed sales between strangers who meet online or at gun shows. It is a common-sense way to fully carry out the spirit of that existing federal law.”
Generals Support H.R. 8:
- Roll Call: Veteran Military Leaders Call on Congress to Strengthen Gun Laws, Pass Bipartisan Background Checks Bill
“Each of us has, at some point in our lives, made the choice to risk our lives for our fellow citizens and place ourselves in harm’s way. We were trained, we were coached, and we were prepared for the dangers that we chose to face. This is not the case for most Americans, yet they continue to face danger on the sidewalk, in their homes, at school, and at work. It is in the same spirit that led us to serve in the armed forces that we ask you, our elected leaders, to help protect the American people from gun violence here at home. We urge you to support this legislation.”
Law Enforcement Leaders Support H.R. 8:
- Politico Huddle: Law Enforcement Leaders Call on Congress to Pass Background Checks
“Every day, law enforcement officers witness the devastating impact America’s gun violence crisis is having on the communities they are sworn to protect,” said David Chipman, Senior Policy Advisor at Giffords and a retired ATF Special Agent of 25 years. “They understand that action can’t wait—not when more than 100 Americans die each day from a gunshot. These professionals are calling for Congress to do their jobs and pass legislation to require a background check for every gun sale. It’s a critical first step in preventing dangerous individuals from getting their hands on guns. Lawmakers—regardless of party— who are serious about taking action to make our country safer should support this legislation.”
Key National Organizations Support H.R. 8:
- Press Release: Leading National Organizations Voice Widespread Support Ahead of House Vote on Background Checks
Well over 40 organizations, which include law enforcement, veterans, medical, education, human rights, gun violence prevention, faith-based, and social justice and civic engagement groups, are calling on Congress to pass the background checks bill.
- Press Statement: Giffords Applauds House Judiciary Committee Passage of Universal Background Check Bill
- Press Release: Law Enforcement Leaders Call on Congress to Pass Bipartisan Background Checks Bill
- Press Statement: Executive Director of Giffords Law Center Testifies in First House Gun Violence Prevention Hearing in Over a Decade, Urging Swift Action on Bipartisan Background Checks Bill to Save Lives
- Press Statement: Gabrielle Giffords on the Introduction of the Bipartisan Background Checks Bill