A freshman lawmaker, whose son was fatally shot in 2012, said the moment that the House Judiciary Committee advanced its first gun violence legislation bill in years was “surreal” and “very bittersweet” for her.
“I had been working on this legislation with other legislators and activists and survivors for six years,” Georgia Democrat Lucy McBath told CNN’s John Berman in an interview Friday on “New Day.”
McBath’s son Jordan Davis, then 17, was shot and killed in 2012 after a loud music complaint. Jordan would have turned 24 on Saturday.
“I can recall all the times that I sat on the other side of that dais, you know, being in the audience watching amendment after amendment be shot down, so to speak,” McBath said. “It was very surreal and very bittersweet.”
The bill, HR 8, that McBath championed would require federal background checks for all gun purchases.
“I said I supported this bill in the name of my son but also all the other survivors and families I have worked with over the years that are depending on Congress to do right by them in keeping them safe,” she said.
When the bill was passed by the House committee on Wednesday night, ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting on February 14, 2018, there was clapping and tears from McBath, other Democratic lawmakers and gun control activists. McBath hugged her colleague Rep. Ted Deutch, a Florida Democrat who represents the district where the Parkland shooting happened.
The House panel also passed HR 1112, a bill that would extend the background check period from three days to 10 days. The bill would require gun dealers to wait 10 days for a response from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to make a gun sale. If there is no response after 10 days, the purchaser can file a petition with the attorney general. The dealer may then sell the gun if an additional 10 days go by without a response from the NICS.
Federal law, under the Brady Act, requires background checks on licensed firearm purchases. The background check system screens for certain indicators of past violence, misconduct and mental health issues. In some states, unlicensed sellers can make private sales without conducting a background check. Licensed gun dealers are allowed to transfer a gun to a buyer if after three days they don’t receive a response from the NICS.
Both background check bills will now go to the House floor for a full vote.
Even though the measures are unlikely to pass the Senate, McBath remains hopeful.
“I believe there are senators on the Republican side who know we are doing the right thing,” McBath told CNN on Friday. “People have to be aware of what the constituency expects of them. When numbers of people understand they could have a parkland at any time in their communities. I think people are beginning to stand up and say, this just makes sense. It’s common sense.”