House passes gun control bill, but Republicans threaten dead end

Washington DC - The US House of Representatives passed a package of gun violence prevention measures on a mostly party-line vote Wednesday evening, but the bill has little hope of clearing the evenly divided Senate.

Only five Republicans joined democrats to vote for the bill that passed in the US House of Representatives Wednesday night.
Only five Republicans joined democrats to vote for the bill that passed in the US House of Representatives Wednesday night.  © 123rf/ mesutdogan

Five Republicans joined Democrats in a 223-204 vote for the Protecting Our Kids Act that rolled together eight other gun control bills.

It would raise the age to purchase some rifles from 18 to 21, limit magazine sizes, codify regulations banning bump stocks and ghost guns, and provide standards for safe gun storage.

The bill's chances of passing in the Senate are low.

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During the debate, Democrats said Congress must address the surge in mass shootings in recent weeks, both at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and across the country.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the House would move forward with another gun bill Thursday, even as fragile bipartisan talks continue in the Senate. "We’ve seen promising signs from the Senate that bipartisan agreement may be possible," Hoyer said. "I surely hope it is. This House will not, should not wait to act."

Democrats have argued that public opinion is on their side on "common sense" proposals to address one of the most politically sensitive issues in Congress.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed 74% of US adults supported raising the age to purchase guns to 21, and 83% supported so-called red flag laws for emergency gun seizures.

Republicans keep up opposition

The bill would raise the age to purchase some rifles from 18 to 21.
The bill would raise the age to purchase some rifles from 18 to 21.  © 123rf/ artfully

Wednesday, Kentucky representative Thomas Massie and other Republicans argued the bill would be "dead on arrival in the Senate," and likely unconstitutional for overly restricting Americans' Second Amendment rights.

Conservative and gun rights groups have mobilized against the legislation. In a sign of the gun lobby's powerful political influence, Gun Owners of America, Heritage Action for America, and the National Rifle Association alerted members that this vote would be used in their lawmaker evaluations.

Republicans argued for measures that would "harden" schools, such as more funding for school security or armed guards. Massie and some others argued to repeal gun-free school zones and "stop advertising our schools as soft targets."

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Democrats pushed back on that line, pointing out police inaction during the mass shooting in Uvalde, which claimed 21 lives.

Thursday, the House will vote on a second bill that would establish a "red flag" procedure in federal courts to allow individuals and police to seek extreme risk protection orders for the temporary seizure of firearms.

Cover photo: 123rf/ mesutdogan

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