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Chairman Nadler Floor Statement in Support of H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021

Washington, D.C. - Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following statement, as prepared, on the House floor in support of H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021: 

"Gun violence impacts all of our communities.  And no place is immune from its reach, including our homes, our streets, our schools, and even our places of worship.

"That is why we must take swift and decisive action to reduce the daily toll of gun violence that afflicts our nation.  H.R. 8, the 'Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021,' is sensible and effective legislation to do just that.

"Under current law, gun sales conducted by licensed firearms dealers may only be completed if the buyers clear background checks.   This bill would simply extend that requirement, with limited exceptions, to guns transferred by unlicensed individuals as well.

"That simple change to close a gaping loophole in the law is one of the most effective steps we can take to address the scourge of gun violence in this country.

"According to one study, 22 percent of gun owners in the U.S. acquired their most recent firearm without a background check.  We do not know if they were felons, fugitives, domestic abusers, or otherwise prohibited under the law from possessing firearms.  A huge volume of guns was sold with no questions asked.  It is time to close this dangerous loophole.

"There is no reason to continue to make it easy for people who are legally prohibited from possessing firearms to acquire them.  And the evidence clearly shows that background checks work and significantly curb gun violence.

"One study found that a Connecticut law requiring background checks was associated with a 40 percent decline in gun homicides and a 15 percent drop in suicides.  On the other hand, when Missouri repealed its background check law, the state’s gun homicides increased by 23 percent, and suicides increased by 16 percent.

"Gun violence of this magnitude is a distinctly American problem.  A recent study in the American Journal of Medicine found that, compared to 29 other high-income countries, the gun-related murder rate in the United States is 25 times higher.  Even when you adjust for population differences, Americans are disproportionately killed by gun violence.  This is a disparity that we can remedy by passing this bill.

"With the exception of certain limited transfers, such as gifts to family members and transfers for hunting, target shooting, and self-defense, H.R. 8 would extend the current federal background check requirement—which applies now only to licensed gun dealers—and would require virtually all transactions to undergo a background check to help ensure that firearms do not end up in the wrong hands.

"I thank Representative Mike Thompson of California for drafting this important legislation and for being a champion of gun violence prevention in Congress. 

"Simply put, H.R. 8 will save lives.  I urge my colleagues to support this legislation and to support safer streets, safer schools, and safer communities.

"I reserve the balance of my time."
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