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Yes, a bill that would require stricter background check rules to buy a gun has been stalled in the Senate

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr called on U.S. senators to pass H.R. 8 after the deadly school shooting in Texas. Here’s where the bill stands right now.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2020 file photo, the Senate side of the Capitol is seen in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr gave an impassioned speech following the shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 students and two teachers dead. He called on U.S. lawmakers to pass gun legislation in response to the violence. 

“There’s 50 senators who refuse to vote right now on H.R. 8, which is a background check rule that the House passed a couple years ago. It’s been sitting there for two years. And there’s a reason they won’t vote on it: to hold on to power,” Kerr said during the speech, which has tens of millions of views on social media

A VERIFY viewer texted the team to ask if what Kerr said about senators holding back the bill is true.

THE QUESTION

Has a bill that would require stricter background check rules to buy a gun been stalled in the Senate?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, a bill that would require stricter background check rules to buy a gun has been stalled in the Senate.

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WHAT WE FOUND

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) introduced H.R. 8 as the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. It passed in the U.S. House on Feb. 27, 2019. The bill was received in the Senate and read twice, but did not receive a vote.

After senators did not vote on the bill, Thompson reintroduced it as the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 and it passed the House on March 11, 2021. More than one year later, it has again not received a Senate vote. There were no further updates until Tuesday, May 24, the day of the school shooting in Uvalde, when it was read for the first time and put on the Senate Legislative Calendar. 

In March 2022, about one year after the bill was received in the Senate for the second time, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) and dozens of other House Democrats sent a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calling for “common sense reforms” to curb gun violence. The letter urges McConnell to join Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has voiced support for H.R. 8, and other Senate Democrats in passing the bill. 

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The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, passed in 1993, requires gun dealers to conduct a background check before selling a gun. But background checks are currently not federally required for people who buy guns from unlicensed sellers online or at gun shows, something that H.R. 8 would change. 

A study published in 2017 in the Annals of Internal Medicine said that 22% of gun owners reported buying their most recent firearm without a background check. H.R. 8 would “close those loopholes and require background checks on all gun sales,” nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety said in a Q&A about the bill

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The bill “prohibits a firearm transfer between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer first takes possession of the firearm to conduct a background check,” according to its summary. 

Some states have passed their own, more comprehensive background check laws. According to Brady United Against Gun Violence, 22 states and Washington, D.C. have expanded background checks to include “at least some private sales.”

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