Bill Banning Assault Weapons Moves Forward in the House

The House Judiciary Committee put forward a bill that bans assault weapons, not the jury is out on whether there is enough support to get it passed with a floor note. 

Two Democratic representatives, Jared Golden of Maine and Henry Cuellar of Texas have indicated that they will not support the bill. Republican representatives Chris Jacobs of New York and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois have said that they are open to voting in favor of the ban. 

The Assault Weapons Ban of 2021 was moved forward with a 25-18 vote and there has not been a date set yet for the House floor vote. 

Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, said, “As we have learned all too well in recent years, assault weapons — especially when combined with high-capacity magazines — are the weapon of choice for mass shootings. These military-style weapons are designed to kill the most people in the shortest amount of time. Quite simply, there is no place for them on our streets.”

In opposition to the ban, ranking member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio said that the bill would take away upstanding gun owners’ rights.

“Democrats know this legislation will not reduce violent crime or reduce the likelihood of mass shootings, but they are obsessed with attacking law-abiding Americans’ Second Amendment liberties,” Jordan said.

Also in opposition, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said, “They’re coming for your guns.” 

According to the bill’s summary, it would be a crime to “import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon (SAW) or large capacity ammunition feeding device.”

Proposed Bill Prohibits Sale, Manufacture, Transfer, or Import of Semi-Automatic Rifles

The legislation is sponsored by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and it seeks to prohibit the sale, manufacture, transfer, or import of all semi-automatic rifles that can use a detachable magazine and have a pistol grip or a forward grip. It also focuses on rifles that have a folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; a grenade launcher; a barrel shroud; or a threaded barrel.

There are some exceptions in the bill, for instance, it would not include any “firearm that is (1) manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action; (2) permanently inoperable; (3) an antique; or (4) a rifle or shotgun specifically identified by make and model.”

This bill was introduced in March of last year. And now it comes just after the broadest gun control bill to pass the Senate in 30 years. This is in response to a number of mass shootings including the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas in May.

A gunman began shooting at the elementary killing 19 students and two teachers. Earlier this month, seven people were fatally shot at a July Fourth parade in Highland Park, Ill.

In both cases, the alleged shooter was a young man with an AR-style semi-automatic weapon. This is the main firearm the legislation aims to restrict.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have been demanding an assault weapons ban. While celebrating the signing of the bipartisan gun law, President Biden said, “Assault weapons need to be banned. They were banned. I led the fight in 1994. And then under pressure from the NRA and the gun manufacturers and others, that ban was lifted in 2004. In that 10 years it was law, mass shootings went down.”

There was an assault weapons ban signed in 1994 by former President Bill Clinton, but it expired in 2004.

Now, the House Judiciary Committee moved forward with a bill to ban assault weapons on Wednesday. This is the first time in two decades a congressional panel has moved to prohibit the sale, transfer, and possession of these firearms.