House Passed First Major Gun Control Legislation in 25 Years

Members of Congress approved the background check measure for all gun sales by vote of 240 to 190.

gun control
The US House of Representatives voted in favor of new gun legislation. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Gun control advocates celebrated a big win on Wednesday when the U.S. House of Representatives passed its first major legislation on the issue in nearly a quarter of a century.

Members of Congress approved the federal background check measure on all firearm sales — including online and at gun shows — by 240 votes to 190.

Unfortunately, for its supporters, the piece of legislation is unlikely to be taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate, as The Guardian noted.

But House Democrats still characterized its passing in their chamber as a significant move towards loosening the gun lobby’s chokehold on Washington and addressing the national epidemic of gun violence.

The bill, HR 8, bans firearms transfers by a person who is not a licensed dealer but its exemptions include “gifts to family members and transfers for hunting, target shooting, and self-defense,” the House judiciary committee website says.

“Here are the facts,” Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said during the debate before the vote, “nearly 40,000 lives are cut short every year from gun violence. An average of 47 children and teenagers are killed by guns every single day.

“It’s all about the children, the children, the children,” she stressed. “We read about the tragic mass murders that have happened in our country and they stir us to action, hopefully. Here it’s been they stir us to a moment of silence, and now finally to action.”

Democrats made the case that 97% of Americans support background checks, including 94% of gun-owning households. More than a hundred gun violence survivors, student activists and other campaigners watched the vote from the House gallery.

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