Why Are So Many House Representatives Wearing Orange Masks?

575 days ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR8, the Bipartisan Background Check Act. For 575 days, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn't done anything about it. Today, representatives from coast to coast wore orange masks to bring attention to the inaction in the Senate, using the hashtag #WearOrangeMasks to come together and, hopefully, get McConnell to consider bringing the issue up for a vote.

Since the act passed, 425 mass shootings have happened and more than 12,000 individuals have died from gun violence, according to Alabama's Rep. Terri Sewell. Specifically, if it passes, HR8 would "prohibit a firearm transfer between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer first takes possession of the firearm to conduct a background check."

As things currently stand, federal law only requires a Universal Background Check if a gun is purchased through licensed firearm dealers, which only accounts for 78% of sales, according to a 2017 study by the Annals of Internal MedicineHR8 would expand background checks before guns can be purchased.

Giffords states that "though more than 90% of the American public supports background checks for all gun sales, a dangerous and deadly loophole in federal gun laws still exempts unlicensed sellers from having to perform any background check whatsoever before selling a firearm." The organization adds that 22% of current gun owners procured their firearms without a background check.

The orange masks are a tribute to Wear Orange, which encourages the public to educate themselves on gun reform to honor Hadiya Pendleton. Just one week after performing at President Barack Obama's second inaugural parade in 2013, she was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15 and her friends wore orange to honor her legacy.

Presidential nominee Joe Biden said he would implement a national buyback program and he previously supported universal background checks and an assault weapons ban. According to FactCheck.org, after HR8 passed, Trump said he would veto it.

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