U.S. Reps. Pete King (R-NY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) last night introduced H.R. 1565, the U.S. House of Representatives' version of the Manchin-Toomey Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2013. U.S. Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Pat Meehan (R-PA), Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Peter Defazio (D-OR) joined King and Thompson in co-authoring the legislation. The King-Thompson legislation is identical to the bipartisan agreement on background checks struck by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA).
"Background checks are the first line of defense against criminals and the dangerously mentally ill getting guns. This bill is comprehensive, it is enforceable, it will save lives, and it will protect the rights of law abiding Americans to own guns. It's time for Congress to act. The American people are getting a vote in the Senate. They deserve one in the House," said Thompson and King in a joint statement
This bipartisan legislation will 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 provides reasonable exceptions for family and friend transfers.
Under the legislation, background checks would be conducted though a federally licensed dealer. Licensed dealers will run background checks on potential buyers and keep records of sales in the same manner as they have for more than 40 years. Failure to conduct a background check on is punishable by up to five years in prison.
The bill also improves the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) by incentivizing states to improve their reporting of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill by eliminating unnecessary responsibilities for states and directing future grant money towards creating systems to send records to NICS. The bill will also reduce federal funds to states that do not comply.
Like the Manchin-Toomey legislation, the King-Thompson bill explicitly bans the federal government from creating a registry and makes the misuse of records to create a registry a felony punishable by 15 years in prison.
H.R. 1565 is backed by a number of organizations including the pro gun group, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the second-largest gun rights organization in the country. It has also been endorsed by Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary and the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.