The House passed legislation Friday to revive a ban on certain semi-automatic guns, the first vote of its kind in years and a direct response to the firearms often used in the crush of mass shootings ripping through communities nationwide. Once banned in the US, the high-powered firearms are now widely blamed as the weapon of choice among young men responsible for many of the most devastating mass shootings. But Congress allowed the restrictions first put in place in 1994 on the manufacture and sales of the weapons to expire a decade later, unable to muster the political support to counter the powerful gun lobby and reinstate the weapons ban. Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed the vote toward passage in the Democratic-run House, saying the earlier ban “saved lives.”
President Biden hailed the House vote, saying, "The majority of the American people agree with this common sense action." He urged the Senate to "move quickly to get this bill to my desk." However, it is likely to stall in the 50-50 Senate, the AP reports. The House legislation is shunned by Republicans, who dismissed it as an election-year strategy by Democrats. Almost all Republicans voted against the House bill, which passed 217-213. The bill comes at a time of intensifying concerns about gun violence and shootings—the supermarket shooting in Buffalo, NY; massacre of school children in Uvalde, Texas; and the July Fourth shootings of revelers in Highland Park, Ill.
The bill would make it unlawful to import, sell, or manufacture a long list of semi-automatic weapons. Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-NY, said it includes an exemption that allows for the possession of existing semi-automatic guns. Reps. Chris Jacobs of New York and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania were the only Republicans to vote for the measure. The Democratic lawmakers voting no were Reps. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Jared Golden of Maine, Ron Kind of Wisconsin, and Vicente Gonzalez of Texas. Among the semi-automatic weapons banned would be some 200-plus types of semi-automatic rifles, including AR-15s, and pistols. The restrictions would not apply to many other models.
(Read more House of Representatives