On The House Floor: McGovern Urges Support For Bipartisan Gun Violence Prevention Bills

Today, Congressman James P. McGovern, Chairman of the House Rules Committee, spoke on the House Floor in support of H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019. 

Following today’s procedural votes, final consideration of both pieces of legislation is expected to occur later this week.

H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, would require a background check on every gun sale or transfer, with reasonable exceptions such as giving a gun as a gift to a close family member. Currently, 80% of firearms used for criminal purposes are obtained without a background check – through an unlicensed gun seller like a gun show, online, or person-to-person.

H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019, eliminates a loophole which currently allows the sale of a firearm to proceed if a background check is not completed within three business days. 97% of all gun background checks are completed within 3 business days.  For the 3% that are unresolved, the bill gives the FBI additional time to complete these background check investigations before the firearm can be transferred.   

Full video of the speech is on YouTube here. 

Transcript of McGovern’s Full Remarks, as Delivered:

I thank the gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Raskin, for yielding me the time and for his leadership on this important issue. 

Let me remind my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who are opposing this legislation that people are watching this debate. And I know many are scratching their heads wondering what’s going on, because what we’re trying to do here is close loopholes that allow violent criminals to get access to guns. Not create more loopholes.

M. Speaker, last Thursday, I spoke at a town hall sponsored by students at Bancroft High School in Worcester, Massachusetts. 

Those young people demanded action on gun violence, not unlike other young people all across my district and all across this country. They are terrified. And they are tired of seeing one massacre after another and another and another. And they’re sickened by the unacceptably high rate of gun violence in this country.

We have an obligation to be on their side, not on the side of the gun lobby. In fact, most gun owners agree with what we are doing here today. 97 percent of gun owning households support universal background checks. 97 percent! 

You just don’t see support like that on very many things. But on this issue, the public is speaking loud and clear. The question is whether Congress is going to listen. 

My office has been flooded with calls on this year after year. I’ve heard from the loved ones of victims killed and from those injured. I know many of my colleagues can say the same thing. It’s heartbreaking!

And each of us is in a unique position. We can do more than just listen. We can act. We can actually vote to help save lives. 

Now, sadly, past Majorities have turned a deaf ear. In fact, it had been nearly a decade since the Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a major bill to combat gun violence. 

When they were in charge, my Republican friends on the other side held a hearing instead on a bill that would have actually brought more guns from out of state into local communities. Their indifference on this issue of fun violence – their silence – has been stunning.

But this Democratic Majority is not satisfied with inaction. We will not be cowed by the gun lobby. We are moving legislation that, in the case of H.R. 8, has been in the works for more than twenty years. 

The time for inaction is over. Listen to the young people in your districts! They are not content with a future where gun violence in the norm. They want and they deserve better.

Last night, in the Rules Committee, my Republican friends tried to pass exception after exception after exception to this universal background check bill – essentially trying to gut the bill.
This is modest reform in the right direction.

We are trying to save lives.

We are tired of massacres. 

We are tired of comforting parents whose loved ones were killed by gun violence. 

We are tired of inaction. 

We are tired of the gun lobby dictating what Congress does and doesn’t pass.

This majority is going to be run by the people of this country. And the majority of people in this country overwhelmingly support these bills.

I urge all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote for this rule and vote for the underlying legislation.

I yield back the balance of my time.