This was a vote on a motion to suspend the rules and pass legislation ensuring that individuals filing for bankruptcy do not have to relinquish firearms as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. (Current law required such individuals to turn over personal assets – including guns – to bankruptcy trustees).
Motions to suspend the rules limit time allowed for debate, and prohibit members from offering amendments. A two-thirds vote is required to approve the motion and pass a bill, rather than the usual majority.
Rep. John Boccieri (D-OH), the author of the legislation, urged members to support the bill: “Since 2005, debtors who file bankruptcy could retain household goods such as radios, TVs, VCRs and linens, but not firearms. Currently, bankruptcy for gun owners not only means the seizure of family heirlooms, but perhaps the inability for them to protect their own family. This means that families who file bankruptcy are left without this constitutionally provided right. H.R. 5827 [the bankruptcy/firearms bill] ensures a person who files for bankruptcy will not lose a treasured family heirloom or sporting equipment passed down from one generation to the next.”
Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) also urged members to support the measure: “The Bankruptcy Code already exempts a variety of other basic items like linens and household goods that a debtor needs during a bankruptcy case to live a modest life and reorganize his or her financial affairs. The bill confirms that a debtor can maintain his or her own safety while the bankruptcy case is pending. The bankruptcy exemption we are creating today is consistent with the principles embodied in the Second Amendment.”
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) urged members to oppose the bill: “I sympathize greatly with individuals and families who are facing a bankruptcy. But as part of a bankruptcy proceeding, personal assets are turned over to bankruptcy trustees. The trustees collect assets--cars, boats, and so on…. What is special about guns, though, that they should have a special carve-out?... Furthermore, studies have shown that the presence of guns in households, especially those experiencing bankruptcy, enhances the risk of suicide, or even worse, murder-suicide.”
The House agreed to the motion to suspend the rules and pass this bill by a vote of 307-113. 168 Republicans and 139 Democrats voted “yea.” 112 Democrats – including a majority of progressives – and 1 Republican – voted “nay.” As a result, the House passed legislation ensuring that individuals filing for bankruptcy do not have to relinquish firearms as part of the bankruptcy proceedings.