Defending Democracy with Informed Community Action in WNC

McHenry on H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act. 

Today the House voted on HR8, the background checks act. There is a serious need for Congress to address gun violence, and we strongly support H.R. 8 in it’s original form. Prior to the vote, House Republicans, with enough support from Democrats, managed to force language that requires NICS background check database to notify ICE if undocumented immigrant attempts to buy firearm. The bill passed, with Patrick McHenry voting nay.

One of our Indivisible members wrote McHenry urging him to support the bill. In response, his thinking seems to be that the bill is no good because it would not have stopped every mass shooting that has occurred. Mass shootings, of course, are only one aspect of the problem the bill was addressing.

 

Congress of the United States, House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515

 

 

 

PATRICK T. McHENRY
Chief Deputy Whip
Member of Congress
10th District, North Carolina

 

March 8, 2019

Dear XXX:

Thank you for contacting my office to express your opinion regarding H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act.  I appreciate having the benefit of your thoughts.

On January 8, 2019, Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA) introduced H.R. 8 to require universal background checks for firearm purchases.  This legislation would require a background check for every gun purchase, but would allow exemptions for family transfers and temporary hunting transfers.  While I do understand your concerns as they relate to this issue, this legislation would not have prevented the situations of mass violence that we have recently seen or deter criminals from obtaining firearms-who continue to obtain firearms through avenues such as the black market or illegal straw purchases.  Furthermore, background checks are already required on all commercial gun purchases in the U.S.  The exemptions listed in the bill also do not go far enough to include many other common, harmless transfers, allowing the simple act of handing a firearm to another person for safety purposes to potentially trigger penalties and steep fines.  On February 27, 2019, this legislation passed the House, without my support, by a vote of 240-199.  H.R. 8 has been referred to the Senate, where it awaits action.

Please know that while I am opposed to this legislation, I do believe that we need a strong background check system and to make updates and improvements to the current National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  That is why I voted in favor of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act during the 115th Congress, which included the Fix NICS Act.  This legislation ensures that federal and state authorities comply with existing law and accurately report relevant criminal history records to NICS.  Furthermore, it holds federal and state agencies accountable if they fail to upload relevant records to NICS and rewards states who comply with their NICS implementation plans.  It was signed into law on March 23, 2018.  Additionally, I voted in favor of the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act to reduce both gun and gang violence nationwide.  This bill requires grant recipients to develop strategic plans to reduce violent crimes, including enforcement of current gun laws, and prioritize efforts focused on the individuals or organizations responsible for increased violence in particular areas.  Please know that I will keep your thoughts in mind should further legislation pertaining to these issues come to the House floor for a vote.

While we may not agree on this issue, I hope we can find common ground in the future.  Thank you again for contacting my office.  It is an honor to serve as your United States Congressman.  Your suggestions are always welcome, and if ever I may be of assistance, please do not hesitate to call me.

Sincerely,
(signed)
Patrick T. McHenry
Member of Congress