(CNN) - The House of Representatives passed a bill that would require background checks for virtually all firearm sales in the United States in what is its first passage of significant gun control legislation in more than two decades.
Currently, only licensed gun dealers must perform background checks on anyone seeking to purchase a firearm, and most unlicensed sellers do not. The universal background check bill, H.R. 8, which was passed Wednesday by the House, would make the latter illegal.
Supporters of the measure, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, say it will “reduce gun violence in our country and take more steps to improve the safety of the American people.”
The bill was sponsored by a bipartisan duo of Reps. Mike Thompson, D-CA, and Peter King, R-NY. Four other Republicans co-sponsored the bill.
However, the measure also had its critics, like Rep. Ben Cline, R-VA, who claims “gun control measures do not address the problems of gun violence.”
"The criminals do not abide by the law, and this would only cause traps for law-abiding gun owners,” said Rep. Ted Budd, R-NC.
The measure passed 240 to 190. Eight Republicans voted for it, and two Democrats voted against it.
Democrats hope the passage of the bill will intensify a pressure campaign for a vote in the Senate, where it moves next.
However, Senate Republicans, who have the majority in the chamber, are “unlikely” to take up the measure, according to Majority Whip John Thune, R-SD. Legislation often needs 60 or more votes to advance in the Senate.
A Quinnipiac poll conducted in January found that 92 percent of Americans support requiring background checks for all gun buyers. Of that 92 percent, Republicans supported the idea of background checks 89 percent of the time, and Democrats supported it 95 percent of the time.