Five days after taking over the majority in the House, Democrats are set to introduce a bill that would significantly expand the requirements for background checks on gun sales. The legislation aims to close longstanding loopholes in federal law, which requires criminal background checks when guns are sold by licensed dealers but allows private citizens to sell and transfer guns to each other without any background check, The Guardian reports. Closing the loopholes has been the top priority of the gun control movement since the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school, which left 20 children and six educators dead. The bill will be introduced on the eighth anniversary of the Tucson mass shooting that targeted one of then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ constituent meetings. Giffords survived being shot in the head in an attack that left six people dead.
While the new bill is expected to pass the House, it is likely to be blocked from becoming law by the Republican-controlled Senate. Even the partial passage of what Democrats are calling a “universal background checks bill” represents a significant step forward for gun control advocates, as well as a sign of how far the Democratic party has moved to embrace gun control as a winning issue. In 2016, after a mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub that left 49 people dead, House Republicans refused to allow a debate on gun control legislation, prompting a dramatic protest by Democrats, who staged a 26-hour sit-in on the House floor. The new legislation is expected to be stronger than the background check compromise that advanced after the Sandy Hook shooting, which would have closed the background check loophole for gun sales on the internet and at gun shows but left other private sales unregulated. That compromise failed to gain enough votes to overcome a potential Senate filibuster.