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A background check bill for firearm sales was read Tuesday in the U.S. Senate after sitting for a year

H.R. 8 Would require near-universal background checks for firearm sales, and is the closest thing to a compromise in years.

TEXAS, USA — Tuesday afternoon, Golden State Warriors Basketball Coach Steve Kerr sat down for a pre-game press conference ahead of the game 4 matchup against the Dallas Mavericks. 

No this isn't a sports article. Keep reading. 

After 19 school children were murdered in Uvalde, Texas, Kerr had absolutely no intent to talk about basketball. 

"Now we have children murdered at school. When are we going to do something!" yelled Kerr. "I'm tired of the moments of silence...There are fifty senators right now that refuse to vote on H.R. 8 which is a background check rule that the house passed a couple years ago that's been sitting there for two years."

H.R. 8 was actually sitting in the Senate for a year and two months, though that's not much better. 

Passed out of the U.S. House with a vote of 227 to 203, and with multiple republicans in favor, H.R. 8 is a firearm related bill that could get bipartisan support if it came to vote.

Also on Tuesday, it was read for the first time in the Senate and placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar. 

What does H.R. 8 actually do?

H.R. 8 is only 6 pages long. It would add rules to Section 922 of Title 18, United States Code, that require private citizens wishing to sell or transfer a gun to get a "licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer" of firearms to act as the middleman in the sell and provide a background check. 

Failure to do so could result in a fine, imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, according to Section 922 of Title 18, United States Code.

Texas A&M Central Texas Criminal Justice Professor Tammy Bracewell told 6 News background checks aren't new, but this new "middleman" approach is. With the bill not explaining exactly how that would work, Bracewell could see the process as cumbersome. 

"You would need to go to a firearms dealer that does not have to provide the service, but may provide the service, of doing the background check," Bracewell said. "It's fair to say that it would be very cumbersome." 

The bill does have multiple exceptions carved out for gifts between family members, transfers for an executor of an estate, and temporary transfers for target shooting or hunting. 

The bill would theoretically deter the sale of guns to potential criminals due to the significant federal penalty, but Bracewell said it is more likely that the law would be used retroactively in a crime that has already been committed. 

Bracewell said it is already illegal to purchase a gun on behalf of someone else or knowingly provide a gun to a criminal or someone a reasonable person would believe would use the gun for a crime. 

If law enforcement could use H.R. 8, Bracewell said, it would not longer matter what a person's intentions, or claimed intentions, actually were if they provided a gun to someone who then committed a crime. 

If a person purchased a gun and gave it to another individual who was a known criminal, law enforcement would already have leverage to get the purchaser to cooperate in the investigation in that case. 

"Is it possible that this bill may make it to where someone who is illegally purchasing a weapon is prosecuted where before they were not. Absolutely." Bracewell said.

Bracewell said this could also provide law enforcement more options to trace a weapon that was used in a crime back to the last legitimate owner. 

Bracewell also said, however, that the overall effect of the law would be "debatable" as law enforcement should also have other ways to pursue people who buy guns for criminals and bring charges against those individuals and those illegal gun purchases would still occur. 

The bill would also not contribute to any kind of national gun registry, as Bracewell said the Supreme Court has already ruled against the possibility of a national registry.  A state registry would still be up to individuals states as it was before. 

In the end, Bracewell said any decisions on firearms will be a difficult decision for lawmakers right now.  

"You have more security, you have less freedom. That calculation should be taken into account by lawmakers," Bracewell said.

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