Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The House voted Wednesday to approve historic gun legislation that would require universal background checks for firearm sales, a measure long pushed by Democrats.
The proposal, which cleared the House by a 240-to-190 margin, would mandate background checks for all firearm sales -- in gun shops, where they're already required, and at gun shows and over the Internet where no mandate presently exists.
The bill has multiple Republican co-sponsors, although lawmakers mostly voted along party lines Wednesday. New York Rep. Peter King told NBC News Democrats taking control of the House has given momentum to legislative designs on stricter federal gun measures.
"Hate to admit that, but that's the reality," he said.
Democratic lawmakers are expected to follow that bill with another Thursday that would extend the background check review process -- a response to the 2015 shooting deaths of nine people at a historic black church in South Carolina.
The "Charleston Loophole," which automatically approves gun sales if background checks aren't completed within three days, allowed gunman Dylann Roof to buy the firearm he used in the attack. Such a law would've blocked Roof from buying the gun because he'd previously admitted to drug possession.
"We have been partaking in a grisly ritual," Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark, vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, said. "We have a mass shooting, we have a moment of silence, and then there has been inaction. This signifies the end of that."
The proposals are the most significant firearm legislation to reach the voting stage in Congress in six years. The last -- a similar piece of bipartisan legislation in 2013 -- failed in the Senate.
Some Republican lawmakers are opposed to the bills, arguing they would ultimately lead to a federalized gun registry.
Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the Republican minority whip who was shot at a congressional baseball practice in 2017, opposes the bill -- saying it would send lawmakers down a slippery slope.
"It's one more step towards federalized gun registration and ultimately gun confiscation," he said.
Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney said tougher background checks would lay groundwork for larger legislation around gun control.
"If they were to pass and become law, [there would be] a situation where they couldn't be enforced, ultimately, without a federal gun registry," she said.
The bill is expected to pass the House but meet greater resistance in the GOP-controlled Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could keep the bill from getting a vote in the upper chamber and President Donald Trump has already promised a veto if it reaches his desk.
Sam Howard contributed to this report.