Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) doesn’t support gun control legislation passed in the House earlier this month that would expand background checks on people who are seeking to buy or transfer guns.
“Not at all,” Manchin told reporters after being asked about whether he supports the reform attempt.
H.R. 8, also known as the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, passed 227–203, with eight Republicans voting for it and one Democrat voting against it.
“I come from a gun culture and I’m a law-abiding gun owner,” Manchin told reporters, stating that he is in favor of “saying that commercial transactions should be background-checked. You don’t know a person.”
“But if I know a person, no,” Manchin said.
A summary of the bill says that it will “utilize the current background checks process in the United States to ensure individuals prohibited from gun possession are not able to obtain firearms.”
On March 11, Democrat senators said they are prepared to move forward with the gun control reforms passed in the House.
“The legislative graveyard is over,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said during a press conference, referring to the bill’s stalling in the Senate in 2019.
“H.R. 8 will be on the floor of the Senate, and we will see where everybody stands.”
“No more hopes and prayers, thoughts and prayers—a vote is what we need,” added Schumer.
“This bill is a critical step toward preventing gun violence and saving lives,” said Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) who sponsored the bill.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) introduced the companion bill in the upper chamber.
The National Association for Gun Rights told the Senate to stand against H.R. 8.
“Nancy Pelosi and her cronies didn’t waste any time shoving gun control down our throats,” said Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights in an email statement.
“A right delayed is a right denied, and these two bills put law-abiding citizens at risk by creating unnecessary delays and hurdles to gun ownership,” he wrote.
“When a single mom is in danger, she doesn’t need to be told she can protect herself in a couple of weeks—and when lifelong neighbors and friends want to privately exchange firearms, the federal government has no business being involved in their transaction,” said Brown.
Republicans have said these measures won’t make Americans safer, with one saying that H.R. 8 would create a possible “national registry of firearms.”
“The idea that this is going to make us safer is laughable,” said Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.) on the House floor Thursday. “Criminals looking to get their hands on firearms to use in crimes are not going to submit to background checks. Only law-abiding citizens will follow the law. This is a back door means of setting up a national registry of firearms—something I completely oppose.”
“We need better enforcement—not more laws,” Miller added. “Instead of passing terrible legislation like H.R. 8, we need to do a better job of providing law enforcement agencies with the resources they need to enforce existing gun laws.”
The bills and proposed bills come as record numbers of firearms are continuing to be sold in the United States. According to recent figures from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), gun sales in January surged by around 9.5 percent month-over-month and around 60 percent as compared with January 2019.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.