Will the Bipartisan Background Checks Act pass in the Senate?

Posted at 8:38 AM, May 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-26 08:38:55-04

WASHINGTON — In wake of the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, many people are calling for emergency gun reform from U.S. lawmakers.

HR8 or the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 is now scheduled on the U.S. Senate calendar.

It was first read on the Senate floor two days ago, the same day as the shooting in Uvalde, after passing in the U.S. House more than a year ago in March of 2021.

If passed, the bill would require background checks for all private party gun sales.

Specifically, it would prohibit the transfer of firearms between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer takes possession of the gun to conduct a background check.

Transfers of guns between family members, law enforcement officers, or estates upon the death of another person would not require background checks if the transfers are made in good faith.

Many people are now wondering will the bill pass in the U.S. Senate.

According to Political Science Professor Kevin Wagner at Florida Atlantic University, the common thought among many Americans is that the Democrats can pass any piece of legislation because they control the House, the Senate, and the presidency.

He said however the idea is not that simple.

Now that the bill has been introduced to the Senate, there must be a debate, as there is with any bill that goes through the Senate chambers.

To end that debate, Wagner said there must be a separate motion that requires the votes of 60 U.S. Senators.

Right now, the Senate is split 50/50 with Republicans and Democrats with the tie breaker going to the vice president.

Wagner said it's unlikely Democratic senators will be able to get the votes to end debate that would then send the bill for a final vote of passage which then only requires a simple majority to pass.

"Unless something is changed about how senators are thinking about it then I suspect it will result in the same," said Wagner.

Wagner said there is what many lawmakers call the "nuclear option" that would allow congressmen and women to change the votes to end debate with a simple majority.

He said however, changing the cloture rules has only been in extreme circumstances such as presidential appointees or during confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justices.

"I think the belief and the hope is that among the senators who support the legislation is that they will convince enough senators that something, that this makes sense and should be done, that they'll overcome a couple hurdles in the Senate, but history hasn't been on their side," said Wagner.