The US House votes to raise the age to purchase an assault rifle to 21

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks at a rally with gun violence prevention organizations, gun violence survivors, and hundreds of gun safety advocates calling for gun legislation, outside the United States Capitol in Washington, June 8, 2022.

Evelyn Hockstein Reuters

The U.S. House on Wednesday voted to raise the minimum age for purchasing an assault rifle in the U.S. from 18 to 21 as part of a package of provisions restricting access to firearms, although the legislation doesn’t have much chance to pass the Senate.

The measure above includes the provision in the broader bill that was agreed from 228 to 199 along mostly party lines, but attracted a small Republican support group.

House Democrats are holding a series of votes on component proposals that are part of the Protecting Our Kids Act, a collection of several pieces of legislation designed to restrict access to firearms and other firearms equipment in the wake of the mass shootings of the United States. last month in Buffalo, New York York and Uvalde, Texas, which claimed the lives of 31 Americans.

The bill is slated for a final vote on Wednesday evening.

In its entirety, the bill would raise the legal age for the purchase of an assault rifle to 21 by 18, prevent the sale of large-capacity magazines, and institute new rules requiring proper gun storage at home.

Another piece of legislation, called the Untraceable Firearms Act, would strengthen regulations on so-called phantom weapons, or those firearms without a serial number. It is much more difficult for law enforcement to track ownership and possession of firearms without serial numbers.

While the Democratic majority in the House should pass stricter gun laws, their success is largely symbolic. Senate Republicans, who have the power to block legislation with a filibuster that requires 60 votes to pass, are united in their opposition to the House’s arms restrictions and will block its advance.

The 50-50 split in the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris the key vote for a tie, means Democrats must persuade 10 Republicans to pass any legislation. A bipartisan group of senators is negotiating a tighter compromise bill that they believe would strengthen background checks, improve mental health services and strengthen school safety.

Political analysts say neither the May 24 elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, nor the May 14 racist rampage at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, will likely be able to garner enough support for the drawing. by law approved by the Chamber.

A gunslinger a Robb Elementary in Uvalde shot 19 children and two teachers to death, while the attacker predominantlyy Buffalo’s black neighborhood killed 10 people. Both gunmen were 18 years old and carried AR-15 style assault rifles.

Parents of the victims, law enforcement and an 11-year-old Uvalde shooting survivor appeared before Congress on Wednesday to urge lawmakers to pass new gun laws.

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Kimberly Rubio, mother of the killing of Lexi Rubio, 10, told lawmakers through tears that she doesn’t want her daughter to be remembered as “just a number.”

“She was intelligent, compassionate and athletic. She was quiet, shy unless she had a point to say,” Rubio told the House Oversight Committee. “Somewhere out there, there’s a mom listening to our testimony thinking, ‘I can’t even imagine their pain’, not knowing that our reality will someday be hers. Unless we act now.” .

In the wake of the two massacres, the heads of the Senate Chuck SchumerDNY and Mitch McConnellR-Ky., blissful bipartisan talks in the upper house on a narrower set of new firearms rules.

Sen. Chris Murphya Connecticut Democrat, and Sen. John Cornyna Texas Republican, are spearheading those deliberations, which so far have focused on tighter than precedent controls and red flag laws.

Red flag laws allow family members, colleagues or the police to petition a court to seize an individual’s weapons for a specified period of time if the person is considered a threat to themselves or the public.

The Senate’s bipartisan ideas – albeit far less stringent – are the best shot for Democrats to send any gun legislation to the President’s desk Joe Biden for signature in law. The president, who called on federal lawmakers to pass tougher gun laws, met with Murphy on Tuesday to discuss the bipartisan negotiations.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday that Biden supports red flag laws and stricter background checks.

“We understand that not all components of what the president is asking will stop all tragedy,” said Jean-Pierre. “But we have to take steps, we have to move forward and we have to do something”.

Despite overwhelming support from Congressional Democrats and the White House, new weapons legislation faces tough challenges in the Senate, aides say, as the vast majority of Republicans would never vote for even slightly stricter weapons bills. .

Cornyn acknowledged that political reality from the Senate chamber Wednesday afternoon, but set an upbeat tone to the inter-party talks.

“I am happy to say that we are making steady progress on this issue. It is early in the process, but I am optimistic about how things stand right now,” he said. “What am I optimistic about?

The Texas Republican said he is focused on the importance of ensuring young adults have access to mental health services and that schools have sufficient safety protocols.

He also noted that another idea under consideration is a law that would require states to upload child records to the national instant background check system.

“Because this young man in Uvalde turned 18 and there was no recollection of his youthful past, he passed a background check. It’s like he was born on his 18th birthday and nothing that happened before was important, ”Cornyn said. “This is obviously a problem.”