Washington • Rep. Ben McAdams, Utah’s lone Democrat in Congress, bucked his party on Thursday to oppose a measure to extend the wait time for Americans to buy guns, though the legislation passed the House by a comfortable margin.
The bill would require a 10-day wait to buy a firearm, up from the three-day period under current law.
McAdams, who had a day earlier voted with Democrats to expand background checks for all gun purchases, says the new bill doesn’t protect public safety and just makes the process more onerous for Americans.
“As a supporter of the Second Amendment, I believe most gun owners are responsible, law-abiding citizens,” McAdams said in a statement.
“I voted for bipartisan legislation providing for universal background checks. Adding more bureaucracy and delays for a gun buyer to navigate does not improve the background check system,” he added. “I would rather see more investment in improving and streamlining the system to achieve a better result in stopping dangerous people from getting guns."
Utah’s other House members, Republican Reps. Rob Bishop, John Curtis and Chris Stewart, opposed the measure as well.
Currently, when someone applies to buy a gun, the FBI has three business days to perform a background check. If the agency fails to do the check, the person can buy the gun on the fourth day. Democrats say 60,000 people in the past two decades have been able to buy guns when they should have been prohibited from doing so.
That’s a loophole that Democrats and gun control advocates want to erase and they cite the case of Dylann Roof, who shot and killed nine people at an historically black church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015. Because of a prior drug charge, he shouldn’t have been able to buy a handgun but a quick background check didn’t turn up the past offense.
The bill, which passed 228-198, now heads to the Senate where it is unlikely to see action with Republicans controlling that chamber. In the House, McAdams was one of seven Democrats to oppose the bill; three Republicans supported it.
GOP House leaders pushed back on the bill, arguing that the perpetrators of recent mass shootings in America purchased their guns after passing background checks.
Bishop, a former state lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, said the Democrats’ bill was an attack on legal gun owners.
“This legislation is a fundamental dismissal of the Second Amendment,” Bishop said. “The removal of this protective provision opens the door to arbitrary bureaucratic delays which can do nothing but restrict a basic American right.”