Tell Your Senator to Act to Prevent Gun Violence

Gun violence is all too common in the United States, and disproportionately impacts people of color. But despite strong public support for policies that could help stem the tide of violence, Republicans in Congress refused to act while in the majority. Or, if they did act, they worked to advance the gun lobby’s agenda, making the problem worse. 

Then, when Democrats took control of the House and took action to pass gun safety measures for the first time in a decade, Republicans attempted to insert anti-immigrant language at the last moment. 

Unfortunately, 26 Democrats joined Republicans in adding the anti-immigrant language into the final bill. It's clear that Congress must take action in response to the tragedies that happen every day in our country. The Senate should come back from August recess to pass S. 42, which is the companion to H.R. 8 and does not contain the problematic language House Republicans forced into that bill.

What would H.R. 8/S. 42 do?

H.R. 8 would make our communities safer by closing loopholes that allow people to buy guns legally without a background check. Federal law does not currently require that gun purchases made from “unlicensed sellers” include a background check as part of the purchasing process—which means that millions of people in the United States continue to obtain weapons without going through a background check that would identify felony convictions, mental health risks, domestic abuse histories, and more.

Requiring background checks for all firearm purchases would save lives and keep guns out of the wrong hands. Research indicates that expanding background checks results in reduced gun homicide and suicide rates. While requiring a background check for every gun purchase would not end all gun violence, it could help to prevent mass shootings by ensuring that potentially dangerous people who could not pass a background check (like domestic abusers and convicted felons) are not able to buy a gun from an unlicensed seller.

Comprehensive background checks have broad support in Congress and across the country. Nonetheless, Republicans have refused to act as anything but a vehicle for the NRA’s agenda while in power. That stops now. It’s time for Congress to pass meaningful legislation to reduce gun violence by passing S. 42 in the Senate. You can check to see if both of your senators have co-sponsored S. 42, and urge them to do so if not.

Call Now!

Call your Senators and tell them to co-sponsor S. 42 to close background check loopholes, prevent gun violence and make our communities safer.

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What happened to H.R. 8 in the House?

In a welcome change from mere “thoughts and prayers,” Democrats elevated H.R. 8 as a top priority in the new Congress. It was introduced on January 8, the anniversary of former Representative Gabby Giffords’ shooting, and passed out of the House on February 27, 2019.

However, when it reached the floor of the House, Republicans employed a now well-known trick known as a “motion to recommit” (MTR). You can read more here about MTRs and how Republicans are weaponizing them to derail progressive bills in the House.

In short, MTRs can be used to alter the language of a bill at the last minute, if the majority of the House approves. In this instance, Republicans introduced dangerous language that would require reporting to ICE when undocumented immigrants attempted to purchase firearms—and 26 Democrats agreed to the language, ensuring its passage. You can see how your Representative voted here.

After this disappointing turn, Indivisible elected to join partners in denouncing these changes and pulling our support for the bill in its current form.

What now?

The bill now sits with the Senate, where Mitch McConnell will continue to refuse to take it up.

We can urge senators to demonstrate their support for preventing gun violence, even if Mitch McConnell won’t do anything about it, by co-sponsoring the Senate version of the background checks bill. S. 42 is the Senate version of H.R. 8 in its original form, and we support it. Check here to see if your senators have co-sponsored. If they have, thank them! If not, be sure to urge them to do so.

Taking back Congress is a matter of life and death

The infuriating reality is that as long as Mitch McConnell controls the Senate, Congress won’t pass any legislation to deal with gun violence. The best shot we have of getting meaningful legislation passed is if we take back power in 2020. That’s what’s at stake in 2020, so we need to do everything we can to make sure Democrats control the Senate in 2021. But even if we win, we’ll also need to eliminate the filibuster in order to keep Republicans from blocking desperately needed gun violence prevention legislation.