Feb 27, 2019

House passes bill for universal background checks

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

The House on Wednesday passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would require background checks for all firearm sales, including those sold at gun shows and online.

Why it matters: This is the first gun control bill that Congress has considered in nearly 25 years. Gun control has been near the top of the Democratic agenda since the party took back control of the House in November's midterms, galvanized by recent mass shootings and student-led activism.

Details: The bill, HR 8, also prohibits firearms transfers by a person who is not a licensed dealer. However, it does exclude "gifts to family members and transfers for hunting, target shooting, and self-defense," according to the House Judiciary Committee website.

  • House Republicans were also able to add an amendment to the bill — with support from some Democrats — that would force the NICS background check database to notify ICE if an undocumented immigrant attempts to buy a firearm.
  • Critics of the bill, including shooting survivor Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), note that universal background checks would target law-abiding owners and could not have prevented several recent shootings in which shooters had passed a federal background check.

What to watch: Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told CNN on Tuesday that it's "unlikely" the Republican majority will take up the bill for debate soon. A second bill, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, is up for a vote in the House on Thursday. It would extend time for the FBI to conduct background checks.

Go deeper: The flurry of new state gun laws after Parkland

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Autopsies say George Floyd's death was homicide

Police watch as demonstrators block a roadway while protesting the death of George Floyd in Miami. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Preliminary results from an independent autopsy commissioned by George Floyd's family found that his death in the custody of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was "homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain," according to a statement from the family's attorney.

The latest: An updated official autopsy released by the Hennepin County medical examiner also determined that the manner of Floyd's death was "homicide," ruling it was caused by "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdued, restraint, and neck compression."

The Biden-Trump split screen

Photos via Getty Images: Jim Watson/AFP (L); Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency (R)

The differences between former Vice President Joe Biden and President Trump are plain as day as the two respond to recent protests.

Why it matters: Americans are seeing firsthand how each presidential nominee responds to a national crisis happening during a global pandemic.

Louisville police chief fired after body cameras found inactive in shooting of black man

Louisville police officers during protests. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer fired the city's chief of police Steve Conrad after it was discovered that police officers had not activated their body cameras during the shooting of David McAtee, a local black business owner who was killed during protests early Monday morning.

Why it matters: Mandatory body camera policies have proven to be important in efforts to hold police officers accountable for excessive force against civilians and other misconduct. Those policies are under even greater scrutiny as the nation has erupted in protest over the killing of black people at the hands of police.