MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The House of Representatives passed HR 8 on Wednesday — a bill that would require background checks on all firearms sales.
South Florida Congressman Ted Deutch, who represents Parkland, spoke in favor of the measure on the House floor Wednesday. Deutch pushed hard for this legislation.
“We’ve waited too long to close loopholes that let people easily avoid background checks through private sales,” Deutch said. “Background checks have stopped more than 3 million gun sales and have saved countless lives.”
Many gun control advocates see this as a landmark day. They say that polls show that more than 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks. But they also know this bill stands little chance of actually becoming law because it’s unclear if the Senate, controlled by Republicans, will actually bring the measure up for a vote.
Under current law, if you buy a gun from a federally licensed firearms dealer a background check is done. But if you buy a gun at a gun show or from a private person there is no background check requirement. This bill would change that. If you buy a gun online from anyone, including a federally licensed firearms dealer, the gun has to be shipped to another federally licensed dealer to conduct a background check on the buyer. HR8 would also have some exemptions and allow people to transfers guns as gifts or for hunting, target practice and self defense without a background check.
Ryan Servaites is a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student and a member of March For Our Lives. He said the group lent their voice to the effort to pass HR 8.
“It’s a perfect example of tons of young people who wanted to be democratically involved who really were striving towards a common goal saying you know what, we care about this issue and we want Congress to do something about this issue,” Servaites said.
CBS 4 News spoke with Manny Oliver Wednesday night. His son Joaquin was murdered at Stoneman Douglas and Oliver has become a tireless advocate for gun control.
“Am I celebrating today? Not really,” he said. “I should be celebrating the first year of college of my son today and I can’t do that.”
Oliver created a group called Change the Ref and he sees the passage of this bill as an important first step but says the fight is just beginning and that this measure is long overdue. Oliver believes pressure from him, activists and others led to the bill’s passage.
“This is thanks to Joaquin and March for our Lives and Change the Ref and a lot of us that decided to be out there becoming reminders of what needs to be done,” Oliver said.
The NRA is pushing back against the measure. On the NRA website, they write that these background checks would do little to stop criminals from getting guns on the black market or through straw buyers. They worry about the impact on law abiding gun owners.