The Democrats are already introducing their first pieces of gun legislation. This bill, HR 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, and also the Enhanced Background Check Act 2021 (HR 1446).
HR 8 was introduced on March 2, 2021 and has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. It proposes to require a federal background check for every private party change in possession of a firearm (with some exceptions). Effectively, HR 8 will implement “Universal Background Checks” and is meant to close what anti-gunners call the “Gun Show Loophole.”
Currently, federal background check requirements apply only to the purchase of a firearm from a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) and not if a firearm is being sold or loaned between two private parties. Of course, some states have additional requirements.
There is NO loophole for gunshows. A purchase from an FFL requires a background check and a purchase from a private citizen does not – regardless if the transaction takes place at a gunshow.
At first glance, this might seem like a good idea to even pro-gun people. After all, none of us should ever want the criminal misuse of firearms.
However, it’s not so simple. This legislation is dangerous as it effectively creates a federal firearm registry and creates yet another hurdle to exercising a fundamental right in both logistics and cost (FFL dealer transfer fees).
Supporters of this gun-control bill will refute the gun registry argument by showing that the language of the bill does not include a gun registry. However, it would be impossible to enforce this law without having a record of each registered owner of a gun. For example, if you have a firearm and are accused of transferring it without a background check, the only record to prove your guilt or innocence would be a registry showing each transfer.
There is one good thing that this bill will do for the firearms industry: more and more people will get their own FFL (even from their home) as they realize:
- FFLs are exempt from a background check when acquiring (purchasing/receiving) a firearm, and
- As an FFL they can make a solid side-business conducting transfers and background checks for others for a fee.
The bill, by Democratic House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson, was already introduced in the last Congress and it passed the House with 240 votes but never moved on – this means it will likely pass again.
Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 – HR 8
We’ll attempt to summarize the effect of the bill and also show the actual legislative changes it will make to current law.
HR 8 Bill Summary
The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 will effectively require background checks for all transfers (sales, loans, etc.) of firearm with a few exceptions.
The bill, if it becomes law, will make it illegal for anyone who doesn’t have their own FFL to obtain a firearm without having a background check run by an FFL for each transfer.
Normal transactions from an FFL wouldn’t change but the private party seller would go into the FFL’s location with the purchaser. The FFL would then take the firearm and conduct the transfer and background check as if it were a firearm they were selling.
Already, most FFLs in the country are home-based FFLs because people realize the benefit of having firearms shipped straight to their homes at distributor/factory pricing and making extra money conducting transfers and selling firearms to their friends. If this law passes, however, it will make even more sense for gun-loving people to get their FFL as they won’t have to deal with the hassle of going into another FFL’s location for a transfer (they can just take the firearm as an FFL) and they can make a good side income conducting these transfers for other people.
The exceptions to the nearly universal background checks are as follows…
The requirement to have a background check conducted by an FFL at their location before receiving a firearm would NOT apply to:
- People who have their own FFL
- Law Enforcement, Security Guards, or Military members if acting in the course of their professional duties
- Loans or gifts between relatives (spouses, between domestic partners, between parents and their children, including step-parents and their step-children, between siblings, between aunts or uncles and their nieces or nephews, or between grandparents and their grandchildren)
- Passing down of firearms due to a death
- Transfers necessary to temporarily prevent imminent death or great bodily harm
- NFA transfers (as these already need ATF approval and background checks)
- Transfers exclusively for use at a shooting range or while hunting, fishing, or trapping, or while in the presence of the owner
Ryan Cleckner is a former special operations sniper and current attorney specializing in firearms law/ATF compliance and is a firearms industry executive (former govt. relations manager for NSSF, Vice President of Remington Outdoor Company, and a SAAMI voting board member).
5 thoughts on “Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 (HR 8) Explained”
Please don’t punish lawful gun owners for what criminals do. Use all your pent up rage to go after them.
Please say no to this
So how do we keep the guns out of the hands of unstable people or criminals?
By using the laws we already have. Unfortunately, making another law to keep guns out of criminals’ hands is like making another law to keep meth out of criminals hands. If current laws aren’t enough, more laws won’t help. However, enforcing current laws is needed.
What part of SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED do you not understand?