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Congress renews gun safety push with background check bills

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This story was published in partnership with The 19th, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom reporting on gender, politics and policy. 

Congressional lawmakers this week revived an effort to enact significant gun safety laws for the first time in more than 25 years by introducing bills to establish a universal background check system that has broad support from the public.

The bills introduced Tuesday in the House and Senate would extend current federal background check requirements to transactions conducted by unlicensed and private sellers.

Legislation was reintroduced in Congress to extend background checks to transactions conducted by private and unlicensed gun sellers.

The gun safety group Giffords estimates that 22% of U.S. gun owners purchased their last firearm without completing a background check. Polling shows that more than 90% of Americans support a universal background check system. 

The measures are what gun safety advocates predicted would be a first step in pursuing new gun laws now that Democrats control the White House and both chambers of Congress. In recent years, gun safety bills stalled even when they had bipartisan public support, in part because Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not bring them up for votes when he led the Senate from 2015 to 2021. 

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