The two Republican congressmen who represent Bloomington-Normal voted Wednesday against a bill that advocates call the most significant gun control measure in more than two decades.
HR 8, which passed on a 240-to-190 vote largely along party lines, is the first of two bills aimed at broadening the federal background check system for firearms purchases. The legislation mandates background checks be performed on all gun sales, including firearm purchases made privately, whether it be online or at gun shows. Under current law, only licensed gun dealers are required to conduct a background check for someone seeking to obtain a gun.
U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, and Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, both voted against the bill.
During a recent interview on The 21st, Davis was asked if he’d support changes to the background check system.
“In the end, the question I always ask myself is, would this piece of legislation have stopped crazed gunman from going into a school like Parkland and shooting innocent children? And the answer in this case I don't believe is yes,” he said. “We've got to take that into consideration. How do we make sure that we in Washington don't impact lawful American citizens because local officials, especially in Parkland's case, did not do what they needed to do to take somebody who they knew was dangerous, who gave every warning sign ... how in the world did that not get recognized before that person got to the crisis stage and we saw the tragedy?”
Instead, Davis on Wednesday announced support for the Mass Violence Prevention Act, which he said would increase coordination among law enforcement to identify and stop mass shootings and reduce the flow of firearms into the black market. Among other things, Davis said it would strengthen the penalty for burglary or robbery of a retail firearm store.
Public opinion polls show a large majority of American support background checks for gun buyers. But only eight House Republicans crossed party lines to support the bill.
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Bloomington-Normal native who now represents parts of northern Illinois, also voted against the bill.
“The gun control measure brought before the House today was introduced with good intentions, but failed to produce meaningful legislation that would actually reduce gun violence,” Kinzinger said in a statement. “Today, I voted against H.R. 8 because it’s a short-sighted, partisan bill that does little to improve public safety or address the issues that lead to gun violence. Instead, this bill erodes the rights of law-abiding citizens and shows the political posturing of our colleagues across the aisle.”
House Democrats hope the swift passage of the companion bills will put pressure on the Senate to act. The National Rifle Association opposes the legislation, and it faces major headwinds in the Republican-controlled Senate. In the unlikely event the Senate approves the measure, the White House has already signaled the president would veto the bill, should it reach his desk.
NPR’s Brakkton Booker contributed to this report.
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