Mourning and outrage continue to reverberate across the nation following a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school that killed 19 children and two teachers on Tuesday. And, amid a long history of gun violence in the United States, increased gun control legislation is still uncertain in Congress.
There are notably two gun bills that have been passed in the House, but not yet in the Senate: H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446, both of which would tighten gun sales regulations by expanding background checks.
The Tuesday shooting in Uvalde, Texas, marks the deadliest shooting at a U.S. grade school since the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. It also comes just 10 days after a gunman killed 10 people at a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York.
Two shootings, 10 days apart: Texas school massacre comes on heels of racist killings in Buffalo
In the aftermath of horrific shootings in Uvalde, Buffalo and elsewhere, many Americans continue to call on Congress to take immediate action on gun control legislation.
What would House gun control bills H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446 do? And what is the outlook for Senate votes? Here's what you need to know.
'Enough is enough': Biden calls on lawmakers to take action after Uvalde school shooting
What is H.R. 8?
H.R. 8, or The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, would expand background checks on individuals seeking to purchase or transfer firearms – including for private individuals and groups, closing the "Gun Show Loophole." The requirements would apply to online sales.
While current federal law requires background checks only for licensed gun dealers, H.R. 8 would make it illegal for anyone who is not a licensed firearm importer, manufacturer or dealer to trade or sell firearms. Still, the legislation would not create a registry or other federal mechanisms for review.
The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 is the current version of H.R. 8, which passed in March 2021. The bill also previously passed in 2019, when Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., originally introduced it. Both House votes received some bipartisan support.
H.R. 8 did not receive a Senate vote in 2019. Thompson reintroduced the legislation in 2021.
What is H.R. 1446?
Also in March 2021, the House passed H.R. 1446, or the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021.
H.R. 1446 would close the "Charleston Loophole," a gap in federal law that lets gun sales proceed without a completed background check if three businesses days have passed. The legislation would extend the initial background check review period to 10 business days – and, if that period elapsed, require the purchaser to ask the FBI to complete its investigation before receiving authorization.
H.R. 1446 is linked to a 2015 shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, where a white supremacist obtained firearms through the loophole and later killed nine Black people at Mother Emanuel AME Church.
Charleston shooting: Shooting victims, DOJ reach $88M settlement
‘No Way To Prevent This’: The Onion homepage reflects all recent stories on mass shootings
House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., who introduced H.R. 1446, called the bill "an important step Congress must take to address the epidemic of gun violence in this country."
Similar to H.R. 8, H.R. 1446 was previously passed in 2019 – but it stalled in the Senate, which was then under Republican control.
H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446 passed in House, uncertain future in Senate
On Wednesday, The U.S. Senate Periodical Press Gallery announced that both H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446 have been placed on the Senate's Legislative Calendar of Business. But it's currently unclear when they will be brought to the chamber's floor.
Also on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., signaled that he wouldn't bring a vote on gun control legislation this week, because he doesn't expect enough Republican votes. But Schumer said he would call for a Thursday vote on a motion to proceed with the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act (H.R. 350), which the House passed last week following the mass shooting in Buffalo.
"We are going to vote on gun legislation. The American people are tired of moments of silence," Schumer said on Wednesday. "We can use the domestic terrorism bill tomorrow to begin … considering gun safety amendments."
Schumer's plea to GOP: Be in 'shoes of these parents'
The Senate completed the Rule 14 process and placed the following bills on the Legislative Calendar of Business:
HR 1446, Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021
H.R. 8, Bipartisan Background Checks Act
— Senate Periodicals (@SenatePPG) May 25, 2022
The future of both H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446 remains uncertain, particularly because of the projected lack of Republican votes. In the House, both bills received some bipartisan support, but it's unlikely that the Senate will reach the 60 votes required to overcome a filibuster – as most Senate Republicans have historically not supported the increased gun control legislation.
"This bill is hostile toward lawful gun owners and lawful firearm transactions," Grassley said in December. "So-called universal background checks will not prevent crime and will turn otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals.”
In the hours following the Tuesday shooting in Uvalde, House members called on the Senate to act.
"Our work is in saving lives, but the Senate’s inaction is failing. No excuses. Abolish the filibuster and pass meaningful gun legislation. Now," Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., wrote on Twitter.
Today, I spoke at schools across St. Louis about joy and hope, to later see the devastating news of yet another school massacre.
Our work is in saving lives, but the Senate’s inaction is failing. No excuses. Abolish the filibuster and pass meaningful gun legislation. Now.
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) May 25, 2022
"The House has taken a significant step to curb gun violence by passing a bill to require background checks," Thompson wrote. "Senate Republicans need to stop playing politics with the lives of our children – every day that they wait, more people die. That’s unacceptable."
Murphy also delivered a powerful speech to his colleagues on Tuesday.
"What are we doing?" Murphy asked. "Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate? Why do you go through all the hassle of getting this job, of putting yourself in a position of authority, if your answer is that as the slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives, we do nothing?"
'What are we doing?': Sen. Chris Murphy gives emotional speech on Texas elementary school shooting
Contributing: Matthew Brown, John Bacon and Celina Tebor, USA TODAY.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What are HR 8, HR 1446? Gun control legislation awaiting Senate votes