WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives narrowly passed a ban on assault weapons on Friday, after a series of mass shootings this summer that have claimed dozens of victims and shaken the nation.
this is the first assault weapons ban pass the House in nearly 30 years, when Congress he enacted one as part of a sweeping crime bill in 1994. The ban expired in 2004.
The bill passed 217-213 overwhelmingly along party lines with almost all Democrats for it and almost all Republicans against it. It marked a stark contrast to the gun reform package that passed through both chambers in June with bipartisan support.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., represents Gilroy, California, where a gunman opened fire at the annual Garlic Festival, killing three and wounding 17 in July 2019.
“The killer who killed my constituents couldn’t buy the assault weapon in California, so he just went to Nevada and bought it there,” he told the courtroom Friday. “Americans deserve to be safe and free from the fear that when children go to school they will be eliminated.”
The ban is expected to fail in the Senate, where it would take at least 10 Republicans to join each of 50 Democrats to overcome an expected filibuster. even then, it is not clear that West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin would support him.
There is still no vote scheduled in the Senate, which plans to go into a month-long recess on August 8. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., recovering from hip surgerythe Senate is unlikely to vote on the ban next week.
Republican: Ban impedes 2nd Amendment rights
Republicans criticized the bill for violating the right to bear arms and doing little to prevention of deaths from armed violence.
Many pointed to the 2008 US Supreme Court decision (District of Columbia v. Heller), which established that “common use” firearms used for lawful purposes such as self-defense are protected by the Second Amendment. Due to the popularity of weapons like the AR-15 and established use for self-defense, said the House bill is unconstitutional.
“Democrats are once again considering legislation that will do nothing more than penalize law-abiding citizens while doing nothing to prevent gun violence,” Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pennsylvania, said on the House floor. floor before the vote. “This is just the latest never-ending attack by House Democrats on the Second Amendment rights of Americans.”
Friday’s vote in the House comes just weeks after Congress passed a bipartisan gun reform bill last month that strengthens background checks on young buyers, provides more money for school safety and mental health services, incentivizes “red flag” laws, and clamps down on domestic assaults by closing the so-called a couple”.
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The bill that the House passed on Friday makes it illegal for any person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess a semi-automatic assault weapon. This does not apply to any possession or sale of semi-automatic weapons prior to the passage of the bill.
The bill also makes exceptions for manually operated shotguns, weapons that have been rendered permanently inoperable, and antique firearms.
During bipartisan gun reform negotiations and after the bill’s passage, Democrats continued to push for more action to prevent mass shootings, noting that more Americans died from gun-related injuries in 2020 than in the past. any other recorded year. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Gun violence is now the leading cause of death among children.
The shootings in Uvalde, Buffalo and Parkland involved AR-15-style rifles.
Republicans have criticized assault bans as ineffective in combating gun violence, since assault weapons represented 3% of homicides in 2020. Mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas (2022), Buffalo (2022), Parkland, Florida (2018), Las Vegas (2017), and Newtown, Connecticut (2012) all involved AR-15-style rifles.
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky, criticized Democrats for rushing the bill Friday, saying the ban would target “millions of gun owners who use these types of firearms every week.” He noted that from 1994 to 2004, when the assault weapons ban was in effect, 2 million assault-style weapons entered circulation.
House Democrats intended to include an assault weapons ban as part of a package of law enforcement measures that would increase funding for the police and create a grant program to hire additional local officers. House progressives have criticized these measures, and on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told her colleagues they would continue to work on this reform package, but would put it to a vote. ban assault weapons immediately.
The vote comes on the heels of a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing this week, where major gunmakers testified before Congress for the first time in nearly 30 years. These manufacturers include Daniel Defense, which sold the assault weapon used in the Uvalde Elementary School shooting., and Ruger Firearms, the largest gun manufacturer in the US.
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The committee’s ongoing investigation into weapons manufacturers has shown that five major gunmakers have raked in more than $1 billion from the sale of assault rifles over the last decade.
Committee Chair Carolyn B. Maloney, DN.C., told the hearing that gunmakers use “dangerous sales tactics to sell assault weapons to the public,” including “marketing to children, taking advantage of insecurities of young men and even appeal to violent whites. supremacists”.
Rep. Brad Schneider, a Democrat from Illinois, represents Highland Park and was at the Independence Day parade when a shooter killed seven people. He said Wednesday that he had been lobbying his colleagues to support the assault weapons ban.
“The shooter was able to fire his bullets so fast they couldn’t even identify where they were coming from. Without an assault weapon, the shooter in Highland Park probably wouldn’t have caused the extreme carnage we experienced,” Schneider said. . “These weapons were designed to slaughter.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: House passes assault firearms ban with little GOP support