US House of Representatives Votes to Increase Assault Rifle Purchase Age to 21
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks at a rally with gun violence prevention organizations, gun violence survivors and hundreds of gun safety supporters demanding a gun legislation, outside the United States Capitol in Washington, June 8, 2022.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
The US House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to raise the minimum age to buy an assault rifle in the United States from 18 to 21 as part of a package of provisions restricting access to firearms , even if the legislation does not have much chance of being adopted. the Senate.
The measure that includes the provision in the broader bill was accepted by 228 votes to 199 along party lines, but drew a small group of Republican support.
House Democrats are holding a series of votes on proposed components that are part of the Protecting Our Children Act, a set of several pieces of legislation designed to limit access to guns and other weaponry equipment on fire following last month’s mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas that left 31 Americans dead.
The bill is scheduled for a final vote on Wednesday evening.
In its entirety, the bill would raise the legal age to purchase an assault rifle from 18 to 21, ban the sale of high-capacity magazines and institute new rules dictating proper home firearm storage.
Another piece of legislation, called the Untraceable Firearms Act, would tighten regulations around so-called ghost guns, or firearms without a serial number. It is much more difficult for law enforcement to track the ownership and possession of firearms without serial numbers.
While the Democratic majority in the House is expected to pass tougher gun laws, their success is largely symbolic. Senate Republicans, who have the power to block legislation with a filibuster that requires 60 votes to overcome, are united in their opposition to House restrictions on guns and will block its advance.
The 50-50 split in the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris the deciding vote, means Democrats must persuade 10 Republicans to approve any legislation. A bipartisan group of senators are negotiating a narrower compromise bill that they say would strengthen background checks, improve mental health services and strengthen school safety.
Political analysts say neither the May 24 elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, nor the May 14 racist rampage at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, are likely to garner enough support for the project. bill passed by the House.
A gunman at Robb Elementary in Uvalde shot and killed 19 children and two teachers, while the attacker in a predominantly black Buffalo neighborhood killed 10. Both gunmen were 18 years old and carrying type assault rifles. AR-15.
Parents of the victims, law enforcement officials and an 11-year-old Uvalde shooting survivor appeared before Congress on Wednesday to urge lawmakers to pass new gun laws.
Kimberly Rubio, the mother of 10-year-old Lexi Rubio, told lawmakers in tears that she didn’t want her daughter to remember “just a number”.
“She was smart, compassionate and athletic. She was quiet, shy unless she had a point to make,” Rubio told the House Oversight Committee. “Somewhere there is a mom listening to our testimony thinking, ‘I can’t even imagine their pain’, not knowing that our reality will one day be hers. Unless we act now.
In the wake of the two massacres, Senate leaders Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blessed bipartisan talks in the upper house on a narrower set of new gun rules .
Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, and Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, are leading those deliberations, which have so far focused on tougher background checks and red flag laws.
Red flag laws allow family members, co-workers or the police to ask a court to seize an individual’s guns for a set amount of time if the person is deemed to be a threat to themselves or the public.
The Senate’s bipartisan ideas — though far less stringent — are the best way for Democrats to send any gun legislation to President Joe Biden’s office for signature. The president, who has called on federal lawmakers to pass tougher gun laws, met with Murphy on Tuesday to discuss bipartisan negotiations.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday that Biden supports red flag laws and more stringent background checks.
“We understand that not all elements of what the president is calling are going to stop all the tragedies,” Jean-Pierre said. “But we have to take action, and we have to move on, and we have to do something.”
Despite overwhelming support from Democrats in Congress and the White House, the new gun legislation faces challenges in the Senate, aides say, because the vast majority of Republicans would never vote for gun bills. firearms, even slightly stricter.
Cornyn acknowledged that political reality from the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon, but struck an optimistic tone during cross-party talks.
“I am happy to say that on this subject we are making steady progress. It is the beginning of the process, but I am optimistic about the current state of things,” he said. “What am I optimistic about? I’m optimistic that we can pass a bill in the Senate, that it can pass the House, and that it will get President Biden’s signature. And it will become the law of the land.”
The Texas Republican said he is focused on the importance of ensuring young adults have access to mental health services and that schools have sufficient safety protocols.
He also noted that another idea being considered is a law that would require states to upload the records of minors to the national instant criminal background check system.
“Because this young man from Uvalde turned 18 and there was no feedback on his juvenile record, he passed a background check. It’s as if he was born the day of his 18th birthday and that nothing that happened before was important,” Cornyn said. “That’s obviously a problem.”