Background-check bill passes U.S. House, Arizona reps follow party lines


The House bill to expand background checks for gun transfers is expected to face a tougher time in the Senate. The bill, a top priority for Democrats, includes exceptions to the check requirement, including on gifts and transfers of guns between familiy members. (Photo by M&R Photography/Creative Commons)

By Andrew Howard

WASHINGTON – Arizona lawmakers voted along party lines Wednesday as Democrats pushed one of their top priorities through the House, advancing a bill to strengthen background checks on gun transfers.

The Bipartisan Background Check Act of 2019 was just barely bipartisan, with five Republicans among the 233 co-sponsors and only eight GOP votes in the final 240-190 tally.

The bill  would expand federal law to require background checks for any gun transfer, includes numerous exemptions for gifts and transfers of firearms between family members. Those would not need a background check.

Just two Democrats voted against the bill.

“It should have happened a while ago,” Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, said after the vote. “Time to move forward and hope the Senate picks it up.”

But the bill’s chances are dim in the Senate, where Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, has already said he does not intend to give the bill a full hearing in his committee.

While they could not stop the bill in the House, Republicans there were able to add a last-minute amendment requiring gun sellers to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement if an undocumented immigrant fails a background check.

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, said that amendment made the bill “slightly less bad,” but he still voted against the final bill.

Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Sedona, who was one of 26 Democrats to vote for the ICE amendment, ended up voting for what he called a great bill, saying he has “been a proponent of background checks for a long time.”

“I used to be a homicide detective, I’ve seen too much violence in America and we have to start to stem that tide,” O’Halleran said.

But Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Tucson, said she was disappointed by the last-minute amendment because it “gives it some ramifications that makes it that much harder to get it through the Senate.”

“It’s a half-victory I guess,” Kirkpatrick said. “The work’s not over.”

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Giffords, Democrats rally at Capitol for gun background-check bill


The House rejected an exception proposed Wednesday by Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, that would have let people in the Transportation Security Administration’s Pre-Check program skip the background check process. That amendment failed on a 250-182 vote.

Lesko has blasted the overall bill this week as misguided, arguing Tuesday that it “would not have prevented any of the mass shootings in the last 20 years.”

“Criminals don’t get guns legally, and will not complete a background check to get their guns,” she said then.

That was echoed Wednesday by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, who said he was “not at all” in favor of the bill.

“When we can take away the application of a felon or a criminal from getting a gun, that’s fine,” Gosar said. “But what you’re doing here is you’re taking guns away from the people that can defend themselves.

“Guns don’t kill – people do,” he said.

The bill was lobbied heavily by former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Tucson Democrat who was severely wounded in a 2011 shooting that killed six and wounded her and 12 others. Giffords was in Washington for the introduction of the bill in January and back at the Capitol Tuesday for a pre-vote rally.

Kirkpatrick said lawmakers need to keep Giffords’ story in mind as they press forward on the issue.

“It’s a good thing it passed,” she said of Tuesday’s vote, “but it just makes me think about what happened to Gabby Giffords and that makes me sad.”

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  1. Tom and Ann both make me sad! I’m sad that Tom, that lives in Sedona is my rep when I live in Southern Arizona. And sad that Ann is back again, and again and…!

  2. If I remember correctly, the salesman at SW said he would have preferred not to sell the gun to Loughner but was required to because he passed the BC!

  3. Democrats: The party of late-term abortion, open borders, the “new green deal”, 70+% tax rates and suppression of 2nd Amendment Rights. What could possibly go wrong???

  4. The idiots just dont get it do they? Background checks are not all they crack them up to be. Just look at the last guy in illinois, passed a BC initially, then failed when he tried to go CC. THEN NOTHING was done to get the weapon turned in but a letter.

    Most of the folks committing the shooting DO NOT get weapons leagally to begin with so other than penalizing LAWFUL OWNERS what is to be accomplished here other than POLITICAL GRANDSTANDING? Thye democraps want more and more control over the people and will push any agenda to achieve that goal. Cradle to grave dependency on the government and then no requirement for self responsibility. YOU do KNOW that the police departments have NO requirement to protect the citizen right? So dial 911 and you may talk to someone and eventually have a cop arrive (approx 20 minutes average in USA), bad guys can come do their thing and be gone in that time. Self protection is what the 2d Amendment allows and these idiots will strip you of your right to do just that. Have you seen any of them going about WITHOUT ARMED protection? Have you seen their WALLED AND GUARDED living areas? Thats why they push this crap, they have the RIGHTS as the elite, to hell with the little people.

    Yes vote democrap and LOSE all you RIGHTS.

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