House Assault Weapons Prohibition Vote Nears

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The House will soon vote to prohibit assault weapons for the first time in decades.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, announced Wednesday’s hearing.

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The move comes after a succession of high-profile gun massacres, including one in May at an elementary in Uvalde, Texas, when 19 students and two instructors were slain.

It comes after at a July Fourth celebration in Highland Park, Ill., where seven people died. In all incidents, the claimed gunman was a young guy using an AR-style semiautomatic weapon.

Supporters and Opponents

Nadler said it’s shocking and distressing that 18-year-olds have access to a weapon built for war. Any gun that can quickly and efficiently kill school children should be banned.

Rep. David Cicilline’s (D-R.I.) measure would ban the sale, exchange, import, and production of hundreds of assault weapons with specified characteristics. This includes pistol grips and retractable magazines.

Existing owners are exempt from the prohibition.

Critics of the ban, which include almost all Republicans except for a small few, argue it would violate the rights guaranteed to law-abiding gun owners by the Second Amendment if it were to be implemented.

These rifles are consistently ranked among the most common in the country.

Supporters say the Constitution, which was made in an era of single-shot muzzle loads, was not meant to apply to guns that are much more efficient and powerful, especially since they have been used in multiple mass killings in the last ten years.

Cicilline asked how many more children need to die in classrooms before we clamp down on these lethal weapons.

It’s uncertain when or if the measure will reach the floor after passing the Judiciary Committee. There are 211 Democrats who support Cicilline’s bill, but some moderates who are running for reelection this year are against it.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) opposes gun prohibitions.

Shooting Incidents

Liberal Democrats want a vote to have Republicans on record rejecting a popular idea. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) defended the ban as a public safety issue and said the Democrats have the numbers to approve it.

She stated their caucus supports banning assault weapons, saying it’s about kids. Gun violence kills more children than cancer, automobile accidents, etc.

The choice to move the bill, even at the committee level, demonstrates a seismic change in public attitudes toward gun control legislation.

This was regarded as the third rail on Capitol Hill 20 years ago, especially for Democrats, whose endorsement of the 1994 assault weapons ban helped George W. Bush win the White House in 2000.

That prohibition lapsed in 2004.

Since then, the US has seen a run of shooting incidents, including attacks in schools, at religious houses of worship, at concerts, against lawmakers, etc.

The violence changed the public’s perspective on federal gun rules. Congress passed a bipartisan package of measures last month. It didn’t contain Democrat-preferred changes like expanded background checks and an assault weapons prohibition.

This article appeared in The Political Globe and has been published here with permission.