8 House Republicans vote in support of expanding background checks on gun purchases

AR-15 style rifles
Workers arrange AR-15 style rifles on a wall that are for sale at Davidson Defense in Orem, Utah on February 4, 2021.

  • Eight Republicans voted in favor of a bill that would expand background checks on gun sales.
  • The House passed two bills on Thursday aimed at gun safety.
  • Three Republicans co-sponsored the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Eight House Republicans on Thursday broke from their party and joined Democrats to support a bill that would expand background check requirements for gun purchases and transfers.

The legislation, named the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, passed the House in a 227-203 vote on Thursday. It was co-sponsored by three GOP lawmakers, Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, Chris Smith of New Jersey and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.

Republican Reps. Vern Buchanan, Carlos Gimenez and Maria Salazar of Florida, as well as Andrew Garbarino of New York and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois also voted in favor of the bill.

Only one Democrat, Rep. Jared Golden of Maine, voted against it.

The bill would close the “Gun Show Loophole” and make firearms transactions between unlicensed individuals illegal. It would require a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer or importer to take possession of the firearm and conduct a background check.

“This status quo is unacceptable,” Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson, who introduced the bill, said in a statement on Thursday. “I’ve introduced legislation to close the private gun sale loophole. Because background checks work and expanding them would only make more people safe from gun violence.”

Democrats have long prioritized implementing expanded gun-safety measures in the country in response to mass shootings. Thursday’s passage marks the party’s first major efforts on gun control since winning the White House and retaking the House and Senate.

“We hope that the with the big, strong bipartisan vote we have today, to send it over to the Senate and the drumbeat across America, that the change will come,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during a news conference on Thursday.

The House on Thursday also passed another bill, called the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, in a 219-210 vote. Only a pair of Republicans, Smith and Fitzpatrick, supported the legislation. Two Democrats, Golden and Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin, opposed it.

That bill would close the “Charleston Loophole,” which under current federal law allows a gun transaction to proceed even if a background check is incomplete after three business days. The legislation aims to expand the requirement to 10 business days.

Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn spearheaded the bill in response to the 2015 Charleston church shooting in South Carolina, where a white supremacist killed nine Black Americans.

Giffords Law Center, a gun-safety group, estimates that around 22% of Americans obtained their most recent gun without a background check. National polling shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans – more than 90% – support background check requirements.

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