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U.S. House passes background check bill

Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-04, Pennsylvania), from left, Rep. John Lewis (D-05, Georgia) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-05, California) walk down the stairs on Wednesday to a press conference before the U.S. House passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. Thompson is chairman of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

The U.S. House voted 240-190 on Wednesday to pass HR 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. Eight Republicans voted for the bill.

It now will go to the Senate, where it faces a rough road, although Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-Virginia, have carried similar legislation in the Senate in the past. The bill will be assigned to a committee and, if it reaches the Senate floor for a vote, it needs 60 votes to pass.

This legislation sponsored by Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, expands background checks to cover all sales and represents the first major House vote on gun violence prevention legislation in 25 years.

Thompson lauded the House passage of HR 8: “Finally. Finally, we have done more than thoughts and prayers. Finally, we have taken a vote to expand background checks and help save lives. As I stood on the floor watching today’s vote, I thought of the many survivors, their families, and advocates who’ve worked tirelessly on this over the years. Finally, we took action in their honor.”

For the past six years, since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Thompson has worked to pass a bill mandating background checks for gun purchases. He said that 90 percent of Americans support background checks on all firearm sales.

“Background checks work,” Thompson said, “Every day, they stop 170 felons and 50 domestic abusers from getting a gun from a licensed dealer. In some states, they can go into a gun show and buy a gun without a background check. This bill helps stop them from doing so.”

Thompson said HR 8 is supported by law enforcement, medical professionals, veterans, gun owners, religious leaders and “millions of Americans who took to the streets in support of HR 8.”

Thompson is a hunter, gun owner and supports the Second Amendment.

In the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, 20 children, six adults and the shooter were killed. Since then, there have been 1,973 mass shootings in the United States, statistics show.

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St. Helena Star Editor

David Stoneberg is the editor of the St. Helena Star, an award-winning weekly newspaper. Prior to joining the Star in 2006, he worked for the Lake County Record-Bee, the Clear Lake Observer American, the Middletown Times Star, The Weekly Calistogan and st