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Wilson Votes for Lifesaving, Commonsense Gun Violence Prevention Bills

Today, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson voted to pass H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, which she proudly co-sponsored. These commonsense gun violence prevention measures will require background checks on all gun sales and close the Charleston Loophole that allowed the hate crime at Mother Emanuel AME Church in 2015. In the 116th Congress, the House passed versions of these two bills in a strong, bipartisan way.

"Miami-Dade County has struggled with gun violence for years. The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be exacerbating the problem and in 2020 Miami-Dade recorded 272 homicides. During the period between January 1-March 7, 2021, there have been 25 homicides, an increase from the 19 that occurred during the same period last year. Shootings take place in broad daylight and at night, and I have received multiple complaints from constituents who often feel too afraid to go outside for fear of getting caught in the crossfire. No one is immune from this crisis. In January, six-year-old Chassidy Saunders was fatally struck by a bullet as she was leaving a birthday party," said Congresswoman Wilson. "In recent weeks, I have had several conversations with law enforcement officials, local officials, and State Attorney Katherine Rundle to explore ways to address this violent epidemic. With the passage of H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446, we can begin to take bold, effective action to help ensure families do not have to endure the heartbreak and horror of gun violence that Chassidy's family has experienced."

These two pieces of legislation include commonsense measures to end gun violence and make background checks universal:

  • H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act – which requires a background check for every gun sale or transfer to ensure that individuals already prohibited from gun possession under federal law, such as felons, domestic abusers and those who are considered a danger to themselves or others, are not able to obtain firearms.
  • H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act – which would end the Charleston Loophole that enabled the horrific hate crime at Mother Emanuel AME Church that killed nine innocent people. The Charleston Loophole currently allows the sale of a firearm to proceed if a background check is not completed within three business days.

These bills have the support of an overwhelming, bipartisan majority of Americans. Indeed, well over 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks – including 85 percent of gun-owning households, as well as dozens of leading law enforcement, veterans, local government, public health and other groups such as Major Cities Chiefs Association, VoteVets, Police Executive Research Forum, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Hispanic American Police Commanders Association and the American Medical Association.

This bipartisan support is because background checks work. Since 1994, when background checks were first implemented, they have stopped more than 3 million dangerous people from getting guns. In 2017 alone, due to background checks, over 170,000 sales were denied – 39 percent of them to convicted felons. Every day where background checks are used, they stop more than 160 felons and some 50 domestic abusers from buying a gun.

Yet, due to existing loopholes that allow unlicensed gun sellers to sell guns without a background check, the background check system is not working as well as it should, with up to 80 percent of firearms used for criminal purposes currently sold without background checks. The Charleston Loophole alone allows the sale of hundreds of thousands of guns to potentially dangerous individuals each year. Cases of the Charleston Loophole exception are particularly common in domestic violence cases.

"In too many places in Florida and communities across America, too many families have been devastated by the epidemic of gun violence," continued Rep. Wilson. "On behalf of my constituents and every victim, survivor and family, I will continue to fight for strong, effective action to help address the epidemic of gun violence in our communities. Enough is enough."