- 09 Jun 22
The new measures would bar sales of semiautomatic weapons to people under 21 and ban large-capacity magazines.
The US House of Representatives has voted through a series of measures aiming to regulate the sale of guns, but the Senate is expected to block the bill.
The "Protecting Our Kids Act" 223-to-204 package includes several proposals, such as the restriction of sales of large-capacity ammunition magazines and raising the minimum age for the purchase of certain firearms. The landmark bill is being seen as a "symbolic" gesture only, as the measure will face major difficulties in the senate.
Republican opposition means the bill has little chance of entering law, despite a renewed focus on gun control in the wake of a series of mass shootings in the US. Recent massacres in Buffalo, New York and Texas have boosted public support for gun legislation tackling certain types of rifles and background checks.
The House bill gives Democratic lawmakers a chance to frame for voters at the mid-terms in November where they stand on policies that polls show are widely supported.
Hours before the vote, survivors of the Uvalde school shooting, physicians present on the horrific day and actor Matthew McConnaughey (from Uvalde originally), gave emotional testimony to lawmakers which reduced some to tears.
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) June 9, 2022
11-year-old Miah Cerrillo covered herself with a dead classmate’s blood to avoid being shot at Uvalde elementary school, and she spoke at the US Congress yesterday. She graphically described the moment the gunman shot her teacher in the head.
The elementary school shooting in the Texan town claimed the lives of 21 people, including 19 young children - mostly between the ages of 9 and 11 - and two teachers who died trying to save them. It took police over an hour to enter the school where the gunman went rampant, with parents helplessly trapped outside watching.
Those from Uvalde, Texas, shared emotional testimonies during a House hearing on gun violence, hours before the lawmakers were scheduled to vote on a package of gun control measures, including prohibiting sales of semiautomatic rifles to people under 21. https://t.co/OAIyd6GZYf pic.twitter.com/h6f0uywkx6
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 8, 2022
Dr. Roy Guerrero, a paediatrician in Uvalde, Texas, described to Congress the horrors he saw in an emergency room after the massacre, including children "pulverized" and "decapitated" by bullets.
"Those mothers' cries, I will never get out of my head."
"My name is Dr. Roy Guerrero. I am a board certified pediatrician and I was present at Uvalde Memorial Hospital the day of the massacre on May 24th, 2022 at Robb Elementary School. I was called here today as a witness. But I showed up because I am a doctor.
— LovelyLight (@austintxerin) June 8, 2022
A new round of bipartisan talks on gun control have ensued in the US Senate following Uvalde, but Democrats need at least 10 Republicans on board to pass any new laws.
Conservatives want to protect the Second Amendment, the constitutional right to bear arms, and object to limiting sales of the assault-style rifles used in the Uvalde shooting.
Many political correspondents are predicting that whatever common ground Republican and Democratic senators manage to find will likely not involve any major sweeping reforms, therefore the difference will be minimal.
Just five Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the wide-ranging "Protecting Our Kids Act" yesterday, which passed by 223-204 votes.
In addition to tighter controls around the sale of guns, it would also introduce a scheme allowing local government to compensate individuals who surrender high capacity magazine and strengthen existing regulations on bump stocks and untraceable ghost guns. 'Buy Back' schemes have worked enormously well in places like New Zealand and Australia following mass shootings.
The measures cannot pass into law without approval in the Senate.
The suspects in the shootings at Uvalde elementary school and the Buffalo supermarket were both 18, authorities say, when they bought the semiautomatic weapons used in the attacks. The bill would increase the minimum age to buy such weapons to 21.
“A person under 21 cannot buy a Budweiser. We should not let a person under 21 buy an AR-15 weapon of war,“ said Ted Lieu, a California Democrat.
Rep. Stephen Lynch quoted a New York Times report that found if the gun control proposals Congress is considering had been law since 1999, “four gunmen younger than 21 would have been blocked from legally buying the rifles they used in mass shootings.”
However, a US appeals court ruling last month found California’s ban on the sale of semiautomatic weapons to adults under 21 was unconstitutional.
White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, hailed the House bill, tweeting: “We continue to work hard with both parties to save lives and stand up for families.”
The House is also expected to approve a bill on Thursday that would allow families, police and others to ask federal courts to order the removal of firearms from people who are believed to be at extreme risk of harming themselves or others.
"America has lost more children from gun violence than any other cause. Does that embarrass you?" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during a debate on the bill. "To think that in our country, more children have died from gun violence than any other cause? These stories are tragically all too common in America today."
House Republicans, however, claimed the bill was an attack on citizens' constitutional rights to own a firearm.
The Second Amendment was crafted two centuries ago, well before military-style rifles were sold to the public in supermarkets outside of warzones. It was ratified in 1791, along with nine other articles of the Bill of Rights, as a result of a Revolution.
"The speaker started by saying this bill is about protecting our kids," conservative Ohio Republican Jim Jordan said. "But this bill doesn't do it. What this bill does is take away second amendment rights, God-given rights, protected by our Constitution from law-abiding American citizens."
Bipartisan negotiations are continuing in the Senate on more moderate measures that could gain the support of enough Republicans to pass the 60-vote threshold required in the chamber.
One senior Republican, Texas Senator John Cornyn, warned on Wednesday that there are "sticking points everywhere".
Only a handful of the 50 Republican senators appear open to new gun legislation, with Democrats seeking narrower measures as a compromise. Senators are expected to reach a final agreement by the end of the week.
Proposals with the greatest public support include a "red flag" law that would prevent individuals with mental illness or a criminal history from purchasing firearms, and expanded background checks on gun purchasers that would include private gun sales. It should be pointed out that white supremacy is not a mental illness, and individuals with mental illness are in no way more likely to commit mass murder than those without mental illness.
Sadly, there are issues even in the wide-ranging new bill. For one, many mass shootings have not included the use of large-capacity ammunition magazines.
The gun control bill today will ban magazines that hold more than 15 rounds.
Last night, the chairman of the rules committee said this would prevent shootings like the one at Virginia Tech.
I reminded him the shooter carried 17 magazines… none of them held more than 15 rounds.
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) June 8, 2022
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