But legislation is expected to stall in the Senate
The first federal ban on assault weapons since the 1990s passed Friday in the House.
The vote was 217-213, with the Democratic majority supporting and all but two Republicans voting against it. Five Democrats opposed it.
The measure moves on to the Senate, where the Democratic majority will face the usual question of whether it can muster the 10 Republican votes needed to avoid a filibuster. And that’s assuming all 50 senators who caucus with the Democratic Party vote for it.
Political analysts predict the bill won’t pass in the Senate, where Republicans have opposed it as unconstitutional and see it as taking rights away from law-abiding citizens.
Republicans also see the bill as an election-year strategy by Democrats trying to keep their majorities in the House and Senate. Traditionally the party in control of the White House loses its control of at least one chamber of Congress during the midterm after the start of a president’s first term.
But Democrats say the legislation is essential to protect lives after the recent mass shootings across the U.S., including those in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y.
The legislation bans the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession or importation of many kinds of semi-automatic weapons. The legislation was authored by U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, D-Rhode Island.
Congress initially banned assault weapons in 1994, but the ban expired a decade later. During Friday’s vote, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the initial ban “saved lives.”
But the National Rifle Association on Friday said the 1994 ban failed to significantly reduce crime and described the new House Resolution 1808, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2022, as deceptive.
“The promises made in HR 1808 are nothing short of a lie based on willful ignorance of the disastrous 1994 Clinton Gun Ban, which failed to produce any significant drop in crime,” the NRA-Institute for Legislative Action said in a statement on its website (nraila.org.) “With more than 24 million potentially-banned firearms in common use, these draconian restrictions fall in blatant opposition to the Supreme Court’s rulings in Bruen, Caetano v. Massachusetts and DC v. Heller.”
President Joe Biden, meanwhile, urged the Senate to quickly approve the legislation and send it to his desk.
U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, praised the House’s action.
“As a Marine Corps veteran, I’ve seen firsthand the destruction that assault rifles are capable of,” Rep. Carbajal said in a statement sent Friday to the News-Press. “They are weapons of war. They’re designed to do more harm, faster. And they have no place in our communities or on our streets.
“But tragically, the vast majority of the deadliest mass shootings that we have seen in recent years have been carried out with one of these deadly weapons,” he said.
“It was wrong of Congress to let the assault weapons ban expire in 2004, and I’ve been fighting to revive it since my first day in office,” Rep. Carbajal said. “If we want to end gun violence, we have to crack down on the weapons that mass shooters and criminals prefer.”
The new law includes $750 million set aside for states to create and administer “red flag” laws and other measures that can keep guns out of the hands of those who are deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. That was something Rep. Carbajal originally proposed in his Extreme Risk Protection Order Act.