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House Committee on Rules debates amendments to firearms bills

* This article was originally submitted for a class assignment on Feb. 28, 2019

WASHINGTON – The House Committee on Rules held a hearing Monday night to debate amendments on two pieces of legislation related to background checks for purchasing firearms.

The two bills were presented by Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary, and Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y.

According to both representatives, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 and the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019, are designed to close loopholes in current legislation and institute universal federal background checks across the U.S.

The first bill would make background checks mandatory for all private transactions related to purchasing firearms, including online sales and purchases at gun shows. The second piece of legislation would institute a 10-day waiting period to allow time for a background check to be processed before a federally licensed firearms dealer could complete a transaction. Under current federal law, a transaction can be finalized after three days without a response from the government. GOOD CLEAR WRITING ON WHAT THE BILLS ARE

Nadler said during the hearing that the that main inspiration for the measures is to “ensure firearms won’t be found in the wrong hands.”

Congressman Collins argued that the process within the committees regarding both bills was “a radical and alarming departure” from the normal level of debate for legislation moving to the House floor.

“We are considering a combination of bills that will do nothing to stop the proliferation of violence in this country, bills that have been poorly conceived, were barely considered in committee, and are simply not ready for primetime,” Collins said during the hearing.

“The universal background check bill –, it’s been around for a long, long time. It’s not a complicated bill. … I think it’s probably a little bit disingenuous for anybody to say that somehow this was being rushed,” Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., the chairman of the House Committee on Rules, said in an interview.

Brandon Combs, who heads the Firearms Policy Coalition, said the legislation is unnecessary and infringes upon the rights of U.S. citizens. The coalition believes its position that the freedoms enshrined in the constitution come with accepted social costs.

“Freedom is inherently dangerous, you have to accept that,” said Combs. “It doesn’t matter if you have an unregulated scheme or a completely regulated scheme, people that are evil or insane will still do what they do.”

Janice Iwama, an assistant professor of justice, law, and criminology at American University with background in research on gun violence prevention, said the legislation was the best that could be expected for federal gun reform from the current administration.

She said that the topic of gun control is extremely “politically divided.” “You talk about Sandy Hook, you had … 20 kids murdered, and nothing came out of it,” said Iwama. “I think the fact that this is even on the table is amazing.”

Hailing from Waldoboro, Maine, Braeden Waddell is a junior at American University studying Journalism and Latin American area studies. Waddell is an avid podcast listener, an aspirational chef, and a two-wheeled transportation enthusiast currently suffering a minor setback. His long-term career goal is to work as an investigative reporter for a podcast similar to Post Reports, Reveal, or In The Dark. His choice to attend American University was inspired by desperate need to leave his 5,000-person town in rural Maine and enjoy the benefits of modernity he lacked at home, such as a cable internet and being able to go to a grocery store without seeing upwards of five people from his high school. Fun fact: Waddell only learned to ride a bike 3 weeks ago. Fun fact 2: While Waddell loves to cook, he is less knowledgeable with the art of baking. He can only bake one thing: Banana Bread. But, it’s damn good banana bread.

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