WASHINGTON – In response to a series of mass shootings, a divided House passed a ban on assault weapons on Friday over unanimous opposition from Republicans, moving to reinstate a ban that passed more than two decades ago.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the measure, which passed 217 to 213, “an important step in our continued efforts to combat the deadly gun violence in our country.” Only two Republicans, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Chris Jacobs of New York, joined Democrats in supporting the bill.
Five Democrats opposed the measure: Reps. Henry Cuellar of Texas, Jared Golden of Maine, Ron Kind of Wisconsin, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas and Kurt Schrader of Oregon.
The law makes it illegal to sell, manufacture, transfer, possess or import assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition. It has no chance of passing in the evenly divided Senate, where such a gun control measure cannot win against the 10 Republicans needed to overcome a filibuster.
Still, the vote provided a way to show voters months before the midterm elections that Democrats are trying to address rampant gun violence in America. The crackdown on the home comes after several mass shootings, including one in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman used an AR-15-style weapon to kill 19 elementary school students and two teachers.
Gun violence and gun control in America
In a statement on Friday evening, he praised the House for passing the assault weapons ban.
“The majority of the American people agree with this common sense action,” he added, adding, “There is no greater responsibility than to do everything we can to ensure the safety of our families, our children, our homes, our communities.” And our people.
The vote gave Democrats another opportunity to sharpen their differences with Republicans. This month, the House passed laws that would provide nationwide access to birth control, as well as abortion and same-sex marriage. While Democratic senators hope to pass same-sex marriage legislation, nearly all Republicans in Congress are united in their opposition to contraception and abortion bills.
Friday’s debate over assault weapons comes nearly a month after the passage of the bipartisan gun safety legislation, a deal to strengthen background checks for buyers under 21 aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
The move abandons stricter gun control that Democrats have long called for and that most Republicans oppose as a violation of the right to bear arms.
Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat, said on Friday that weapons of war are designed for war, and that such weapons are “easier than buying a teenager a beer.”
He dismissed the recent legislation as a “weak, modest measure.”
Republicans argue that AR-15-style firearms are popular sporting rifles used by law-abiding citizens for self-defense and hunting. And liberals have rejected assault weapons legislation to trample on gun rights while doing nothing to address the root causes of crime.
“Let’s face it: gun ownership, pure and simple,” said Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, Republican of Pennsylvania. “This law is not about public safety. Rather, this is the most severe restriction on the Second Amendment since the assault weapons ban was passed in 1994.”
While the vote on Friday favored Democrats, the assault weapons ban sparked a fierce internal debate that exposed divisions over law enforcement and crime issues, which Republicans have pointed to as a central part of their campaign attacks on Democrats ahead of the midterm elections. .
Democrats originally planned to combine the vote to ban assault weapons with legislation that would provide more funding to local police departments. Passing police funding to moderate Democrats from conservative-leaning districts blunts Republican accusations that Democrats are soft on crime and bent on defunding the police.
But the police law has drawn criticism from progressives and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who say it should include more police accountability measures. With the House’s August recess set to begin this weekend, Democratic leaders decided to vote only on the assault weapons legislation.
Ms Pelosi said on Friday that lawmakers would continue to work on the police legislation after they return to Washington for the summer.
When the House passed the 1994 Crime Act, which included an assault weapons ban, 46 Republicans supported the bill and 64 Democrats opposed. The ban expired in 2004 and has never been renewed; The Republican Party is united against such a move.
“The American people are tired of living in fear,” said Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts. “They are tired of thoughts and prayers. Sympathetic press releases are tired, but they have no solution.
“This is not a radical idea,” he added. “We are not in uncharted territory.”