[UPDATE: The bill passed by a 217-213 vote. 208 Republicans and 5 Democrats voted against the bill. Original story continues below]
The House was preparing to vote late Friday to revive a ban on semi-automatic guns, the first vote of its kind in years and a direct response to the firearms often used in the crush of mass shootings ripping through communities nationwide. Once banned in the U.S., high-powered firearms are now widely blamed as the weapon of choice among young men responsible for many of the most devastating mass shootings. But Congress allowed the restrictions first put in place in 1994 to expire a decade later, unable to muster the political support to counter the powerful gun lobby and reinstate the weapons ban.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed the vote toward passage in the Democratic-run House, saying the earlier ban “saved lives.” The House legislation is shunned by Republicans, who dismiss it as an election-year strategy by Democrats and will likely stall in the 50-50 Senate, where no Republicans are likely to support it in favor of sticking with their NRA gun lobby policy of caring more about campaign donations over saving American lives.President Joe Biden, who was instrumental in helping pass the first weapons ban as a senator in 1994, encouraged passage, promising to sign the bill if it reached his desk. In a statement before the vote, his administration said “we know an assault weapons and large-capacity magazine ban will save lives.”
NEW: Speaker Pelosi announces the House will vote on assault weapons ban bill TODAY before heading out for their August recess: “Today, our Democratic Majority will take up and pass the Assault Weapons Ban legislation.” pic.twitter.com/1sQDCag3pi
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) July 29, 2022
Congress passed a modest gun violence prevention package just last month in the aftermath of the tragic shooting of 19 school children and two teachers in Uvalde. The bipartisan bill provides for expanded background checks on young adults buying firearms, allowing authorities to access certain juvenile records. It also closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole” by denying gun purchases for those convicted of domestic abuse outside of marriages, and was the first of its kind after years of failed efforts to confront the gun lobby, including after a similar 2012 mass tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. President Biden signed the measure two days after the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down a New York law that restricted people’s ability to carry concealed weapons.
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) July 29, 2022
The Biden administration said for 10 years while the previous ban was in place, mass shootings declined. “When the ban expired in 2004, mass shootings tripled,” the statement said.