The US House of Representatives has approved a ban on assault weapons following a spate of gun violence

The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed a ban on semi-automatic firearms – weapons used in numerous mass shootings over the past three months – on a nearly party-line vote.

With 217-213 votes, bill HR 1808, will head to the evenly divided Senate, but is unlikely to advance there, as the ban would need all Democrats plus 10 Republicans to pass a filibuster. Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, has not announced whether he plans to bring the gun ban up for a vote.

“Every year, more children die from gun violence than from any other cause,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor. “Our nation has watched in unspeakable horror as automatic weapons have been used in mass murder.”

All but five Democrats supported the ban. Only two Republicans voted yes: Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Chris Jacobs of New York.

The five Democrats who broke with their party and opposed the ban were Jared Golden of Maine, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Ron Kind of Wisconsin, and Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez of Texas.

The push to ban semi-automatic firearms came after they were used in mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were killed, and in Buffalo, New York, where a white supremacist killed 10 black people at a grocery store. Semi-automatic weapons were also used in a July 4 shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, where seven people were killed.

The bill’s sponsor, David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, said movie theaters, places of worship, schools, hospitals and grocery stores have become “bloody battlegrounds.”

“These weapons have no place in our communities,” he said. “There are more mass shootings than days in a year. This is a uniquely American problem.”

This year alone, according to data, 372 mass shootings took place Archive of gun violence.

The bill on the financing of the police

The assault weapons ban was originally slated to pass alongside several bills to fund local police departments, but progressive Democrats expressed concern and pushed for more accountability measures in the police legislation.

“I’ve heard from the civil rights community, and I have serious concerns about the two police bills that we may be considering this week,” Congressman Andy Levin, D-Michigan, wrote on Twitter. “We should not advance them unless they include strong accountability and oversight provisions under the George Floyd Police Justice Act.”

Democrat Josh Gottheimer, D-New Jersey, is the lead sponsor account it would have authorized a $50 million grant each year for a Justice Department program to assist small local police departments. Another account would restore a grant program to hire and raise pay for local police.

Rep. Val Demings, a Florida Democrat and former Orlando police chief, is running for Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s Senate seat account provide $100 million in grants annually to help police agencies solve violent crimes.

These initiatives are in line with the efforts of democratic leadership move away to being seen as the party that wants to “get rid of the police,” a slogan many members have rejected, as well as Biden. In the run-up to the midterm elections, Republicans called Democrats insufficient support for the police.

During her weekly press conference on Friday, Pelosi, addressing the concerns of progressives, said the police bill was not “funding without accountability.” In the House, she said Democrats will pass a set of bills on policing and public safety after the August recess.

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-2nd District, said he was “proud to have voted for this legislation.”

“Statistics clearly show that banning assault weapons will save lives. Mass shootings declined during the previous decade-long ban on assault weapons, Boyle continued. When the ban expired in 2004, the number of mass shootings tripled. Numbers don’t lie. This common sense legislation will save lives, plain and simple.”

U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th District, echoed similar sentiments in a statement.

“Our country has seen unspeakable horrors caused by weapons designed only to inflict maximum damage,” Wilde said. “This bill will not take guns away from people who already legally own them. But it will make our communities safer—at school, at the grocery store, at concerts. This epidemic of violence must be put to an end.”

Ban on weapons

US House Judiciary Committee passed The gun ban passed out of committee last week on a party-line vote.

The bill would ban all semi-automatic rifles, which can have a detachable magazine and military features such as a pistol grip and a detachable stock or grenade launcher, among other features. This too prohibitions “all semi-automatic rifles that have a fixed magazine with a capacity of more than 10 rounds.”

The bill, if enacted, would not ban current semi-automatic weapons that people own, meaning that current firearm owners would be able to keep their guns.

House Republicans who oppose the bill have argued that the bill would disenfranchise current owners of semi-automatic weapons, but Democrats have said that’s wrong because they are subject to the grandfather clause.

During the House debate, U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-14th District, said the bill was unconstitutional, calling it a “gun grab.”

“Law-abiding Americans use firearms every day,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District, said in a statement that the bill “unduly restricts the rights of hunters and sportsmen, and is not aimed at violent criminals. This is yet another gun grab by House Democrats that undermines the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. I cannot – and will not – support this.”

Support from the White House

The White House released statement on Friday in support of the bill.

“40,000 Americans die from gunshot wounds each year, and guns have become the number one killer of children in the United States,” the statement said. “As President Biden has repeatedly called for, we must do more to end this gun violence and save lives.”

House Democrats have held multiple hearings on gun violence in America, most recently this week when the House Oversight and Reform Committee investigated gun manufacturers’ profits from semi-automatic weapons. This was announced by the heads of two arms manufacturers hearing that they played no role in the mass shootings that used their products.

The bill came on the heels of another gun-related bill Biden signed the law in late June after mass shootings in Texas and New York. This bill, the Bipartisan Safe Communities Act, consists of eight provisions.

That bill provides $750 million for states to enact “red flag laws” that allow courts to temporarily take firearms from someone who poses a threat to themselves or others, among other provisions; provides a historic $11 billion in mental health services for schools and families; and requires persons under the age of 21 who wish to purchase a firearm to pass a background check that includes, among other things, a review of juvenile and mental health records.

When Biden was a member of the Senate, he supported a 10-year ban on assault weapons that was passed in 1994, but it expired after a decade and Congress never renewed it.

A study by a group of epidemiologists and traumatologists showed that “between 2004 and 2017—the last year of our analysis—the average number of deaths per year related to mass shootings was 25, compared with 5.3 during the 10-year ban and 7.2 in the years preceding the ban . on military weapons”.

Ariana Figueroa is a Washington reporter Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this story first appeared. Pennsylvania Capital-Star Managing Editor John L. Micek contributed to this report.

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