>100 cosponsors for House background-check bill

More than 100 House members from both sides of the aisle have signed on to co-sponsor a bill that would require background checks for all commercial gun sales.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, chairman of the House Democrats’ gun-violence task force, and Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., introduced H.R. 1565 on April 15, two days before the Senate rejected the identical Manchin-Toomey amendment.

“We won’t take ‘no’ for an answer when it comes to passing commonsense laws that keep guns from criminals, terrorist and the dangerously mentally ill,” Thompson and King said in a news release today. “This debate isn’t over. The American people deserve for this bill to be signed into law.”

The bill would expand the existing background check system to cover all commercial firearm sales, including those at gun shows, over the internet or in classified ads; it would not cover private, person-to-person sales, as California’s law does.

This widening of background checks is tempered by several nods to those concerned about Second Amendment rights: The bill bans the government from creating a federal registry and makes the misuse of records a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. It also lets gun owners use a state concealed-carry permit issued within the last five years in lieu of a background check, and allows interstate handgun sales from licensed dealers.

And it improves the National Instant Criminal Background Check System by offering incentives to states to improve reporting of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill and by directing future grants toward better record-sharing systems; federal funds would be reduced to states that don’t comply.

The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary and Veterans’ Affairs committees.

The King-Thompson bill’s original co-authors are Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.; Pat Meehan, R-Pa.; Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y.; and Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.

From the greater Bay Area, co-sponsors include Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz; John Garamendi, D-Fairfield; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo; and Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton.

The locals who haven’t signed on are Reps. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; and George Miller, D-Martinez. I’ve reached out to their offices to find out where they stand on the bill, and will update this item accordingly.

UPDATE @ 1 P.M. TUESDAY 5/7: McNerney and Miller both have signed on.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • MichaelB

    Let’s say “no” to people promoting the absurd/feel good idea that criminals and terrorists (who don’t obey laws at all) are somehow going to take the time to submit to a background check to begin with and then be immediately stopped/taken into custody shortly afterward.

    There’s nothing “common sense” about this. Especially given the Obama Administration’s poor record in prosecuting those who fail background checks already.

    This debate is over (for those that have been paying attention) – the gun control movement will keep coming back wanting more regulations until it is either too difficult, too expensive or against the law for law abiding people to legally own firearms. And it will all be spun as “violence prevention” for those questioning it/how it will work.

  • DanvilleDemocrat

    Jerry McNerney holding out is intriguing . . . given that he walloped the twenty-something the NRCC ran against him for no good reason.

  • JohnW

    When will we see the first smart phone equipped with a gun function? That will be a real “killer app?”

    NRA opposes any gun legislation for two reasons, neither of which has anything to do with constitutional rights. First, they don’t want to be knocked off as the top dog gun rights organization by even more radical organizations, the way the old NRA was bumped off in Cincinnati in the 1970’s. Second, background checks will reduce sales volume for the gun manufacturers.

    That’s why the NRA keeps pushing the envelope to get laws allowing anybody of just about any age to pack heat anytime anywhere. They don’t want to protect the right to bear arms. They want to make it socially unacceptable to not bear arms. They try to deflect by arguing that we should focus on mental health, while at the same time pushing legislation limiting just what type of mental disabilities would disqualify somebody from owning a gun.

    As the old saying goes, you can’t kid a kidder.

  • Elwood

    “When will we see the first smart phone equipped with a gun function?”

    I’m in the process of making one on my 3D printer.

  • JohnW


    Yeah, I’ve been reading about that. Fascinating. That might be one gun control law the manufacturers would want — banning possession of 3D guns unless purchased through a licensed firearms dealer.

  • bob
  • MichaelB


    Kidding a kidder?

    The NRA did not get officially involved with lobbying on the gun control issue until the 1970s. The reason – the left wing culture war decided that the 2nd Amendment (which most people support as an individual right) was the “problem” and that guns, not criminals, were really the “cause” of violence. What does all of this have to do with “gun manufacturers”?

    Pushing the envelope? How about most of the Democrats in the House/all of the “progressives” on the Supreme Court voting to keep the Washington DC firearms bans “as is”? It’s rather obvious that they want to make it socially unacceptable/illegal to own guns period.

    Why bother “arguing” or “debating” with people like this in the first place regardless if the topic is mental health or not? They have revealed what they really want. What are they trying to “deflect” by claiming they only want so called “common sense” gun laws? And then just wanting more and more later on regardless if the earlier ones actually worked?

  • Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette

    Oakland has 30 burglaries a day. According to their police chief. My math puts that @ 10,950 a year. With 40% of homes owning a firearm, there is a possibility of 4,360 firearms stolen per year, just in Oakland. I would guess these stolen firearms will not be sold @ gun shows or licensed gun shops.
    Obviously all of the politician’s talk about more & more gun laws, is just more hot air.
    In some communities, owning a firearm is a necessity for survival.

  • JohnW

    @8 Bruce R. Peterson

    Gun thefts are definitely part of the mix, but I haven’t seen any statistics. I wonder how many reported thefts occur. How many from home burglaries? How many from store burglaries? How many from car break-ins? My understanding is that many thefts go unreported.

    A question I have for opponents of expanding background checks to online and gun show sales is this. Do they propose eliminating background check requirements for licensed store-based sellers? It seems unfair to not require them for online and gun shows while requiring them for gun store dealers. Also, the effectiveness of background checks is obviously reduced when they aren’t required for 40% of sales. Even at that, 80-90 thousand people a year are denied due to background checks. Why those people even bothered with trying to buy from a store is puzzling, considering that they could just go the online route with no problem.

  • JohnW

    @7 “What has all this to do with gun manufacturers.

    Opposition to gun regulation is driven by both gun manufacturers and those who have an absolutist perspective on the Second Amendment. NRA answers to the former but exploits the intensity of the latter to drive the politics. Expanding background checks to online and gun shows and cracking down on straw buyers and gun trafficking would reduce sales volume. On the other hand, pushing for laws at the state level that permit anybody to carry a concealed (or unconcealed) weapon at any age, anytime, anywhere will increase gun sales. As the saying goes, “follow the money.”

    As you stated, NRA became involved in gun rights advocacy starting primarily in the 1970’s; especially after the Revolt in Cincinnati in 1977. I’ll agree that, at that point in time, manufacturers were not the driving force. That came later. The big gun control issue that preceded this was about handguns — “Saturday Night Specials.” The manufacturers didn’t make money from those and were either neutral or supportive of laws concerning those guns.

    The leader of the the “Revolt in Cincinnati” was the NRA lobbyist. He opposed any restrictions of any kind, including laws to keep guns out of the hands of violent felons and the mentally disturbed. He considered the fallout from those people having access to guns to be “the price of freedom.”

    The liberal minority on the Court did not vote to keep the D.C. handgun ban, and the conservative majority did not vote to eliminate it. They both ruled on whether the ban was constitutionally permissible under their respective judicial interpretations of the Second Amendment, including the “individual right” vs “well regulated Militia” question.