Congressman Kinzinger votes for background checks on guns, says ‘we have to make changes for the greater good’

‘This legislation by itself will not stop violence,’ Congressman adds

Saying background checks “are critical to keeping firearms out of the wrong hands,” U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, was one of eight Republicans who voted in favor of the Background Checks Act of 2021.

The House passed the background check bill Thursday.

Background check legislation would require firearm transfers between unrelated and unlicensed individuals to be conducted through a licensed dealer. In doing so, it would ensure that these transfers receive background checks, barring individuals who should not have a gun, such as criminals, from getting one, Kinzinger said.

“The vast majority of Americans believe in universal background checks,” Kinzinger said in a tweet. “As a gun owner myself, I firmly support the Second Amendment but I also believe we have to be willing to make some changes for the greater good.”

Kinzinger said he’s an advocate for keeping and bearing arms legally and for concealed carry – and has permits to do so – but that the violence nationally cannot be ignored.

“Following the shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, in August 2019, I said publicly that should the H.R. 8 legislation come before the House again, I would vote in its favor. And today, I did just that,” Kinzinger said.

Kinzinger said the language in the bill will not authorize the creation of a national firearms registry.

The requirement for transfers of firearms through a licensed dealer does not apply to law enforcement agencies and officers on duty, to family loaning or gifting to members of their family, if loaned for use at a shooting range or hunting, or in the case of an imminent threat (including domestic violence), Kinzinger added.

He admitted his vote may cause some anguish.

“But I believe that in order to curb evildoers from having access to firearms, we have to be willing to make some changes for the greater good,” Kinzinger said. “This legislation by itself will not stop violence. It will help, but the core of our issues cannot be changed by laws. We cannot detect or deter evil by legislating. Accepting the reality that this evil exists is part of it, as well as holding those who commit these crimes accountable.”

The renewed push is the latest effort by Democrats – and some Republicans – who have tried, and failed, to pass tougher gun control laws since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that killed 20 children and six educators. While enhanced background checks generally are popular with the American public, Congress so far has not been able to compromise on the issue. It is unclear whether Senate Democrats could find enough support among Republicans to pass new gun control legislation in a 50-50 Senate, as they would need 60 votes to do so, the Associated Press reported.

Kinzinger was one of eight Republicans to vote in favor of the background checks bill. He also voted against party lines to impeach Donald Trump recently and has received censures from three GOP county committees in his district.

The three candidates who said they will run against Kinzinger in the 2022 election each criticized his vote. James Marter said Kinzinger voted against the Second Amendment, Jack Lombardi said Kinzinger voted to strip Americans of their Second Amendment rights and Catalina Lauf said: “I guess in Adam Kinzinger’s world, he doesn’t need guns because he just goes around knifing Republicans in the back.”

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.