US House passes assault weapons ban

Washington DC - The US House passed a bill Friday that would ban the sale of assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines for the first time since a similar ban lapsed in 2004.

Children join the March Fourth rally against assault weapons, in response to the Highland Park parade shooting and other recent mass shootings, in Washington DC.
Children join the March Fourth rally against assault weapons, in response to the Highland Park parade shooting and other recent mass shootings, in Washington DC.  © REUTERS

The 217-213 vote saw seven members cross party lines, but Democrats still overcame objections from Republicans, who argued it infringes on Second Amendment rights. Five Democrats voted against the bill, and two Republicans voted for it.

The evenly divided Senate is unlikely to pass the measure, but Democrats argued Friday’s vote was seen a needed step amid a wave of mass shootings across the country.

"These military style weapons are designed to kill the most people in the shortest amount of time," Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said during floor debate. "Quite simply, there is no place for them in our streets."

Biden is reportedly considering major Supreme Court reforms
Joe Biden Biden is reportedly considering major Supreme Court reforms

The vote is the latest in a series of Democratic gun control bills to advance through the House since a wave of mass shootings this year, including an elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 students and two adults.

Biden administration backs the bill

Protesters hold signs calling for greater gun control at the March Fourth rally.
Protesters hold signs calling for greater gun control at the March Fourth rally.  © REUTERS

The bill, HR 1808, would ban the sale, possession, and transfer of high-capacity magazines and assault-style weapons by name – such as the AK-47 – and features, such as a pistol grip. The bill would also ban the sale of some firearm accessories like pistol braces.

President Joe Biden's administration backed the bill Friday. "We know an assault weapons and large-capacity magazine ban will save lives," an administration statement said.

Democrats argued that the previous assault weapon ban reduced mass shootings and that rifles such as the AR-15 have become a favorite of mass killers. They described graphically the damage high-powered rifles can do to the human body.

Is Biden competent to serve again? Here's what health experts say
Joe Biden Is Biden competent to serve again? Here's what health experts say

Representative David Cicilline, the bill's sponsor, argued that such weapons are also frequently used in police shootings.

Republicans argued the bill would violate the Second Amendment, with Ohio Representative Jim Jordan calling it a gun grab.

"For years the Democrats told us we’re not coming for your guns. Oh yes they are," Jordan said.

Earlier this year the House also passed a bill that rolled together eight other gun control bills, such as raising the age to 21 to buy certain rifles, limiting magazine sizes, and codifying existing gun control regulations. That has not seen action in the Senate.

Cover photo: REUTERS

More on US politics: