A close up of a black semi automatic pistol. For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Agency

What is the bill about?

The bill amends federal gun laws to require background checks for all gun sales and most gun transfers.

Federally licensed dealers are required to run background checks on people who buy guns, but private sellers who are not federally licensed do not. Under the bill, private parties would have to seek out a federal licensee dealer to facilitate any gun deal.

A separate measure set for a final vote Thursday aims to close what gun-control advocates call the “Charleston loophole” - a reference to the 2015 killings of a pastor and churchgoers in a South Carolina church. The gunman was able to purchase the murder weapons after a three-day federal background check failed to turn up a prior conviction. That bill would extend the window for completing a background check to 10 business days.

The outline of the bill approved by the House was first sketched out in the days after the 2012 killing of elementary school students and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, only to fail a key Senate test vote months later.

Since then, the politics of gun control have shifted after an ensuing string of mass shootings and a Democratic pivot toward suburban voters frustrated by congressional inaction to prevent them.

Last year’s midterms put Democrats in control of the House after candidates ran in many swing districts on supporting new gun laws.

— Washington Post