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House committee approves first assault weapons ban bill in decades

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday moved a bill banning assault weapons forward but it’s unclear if the legislation has enough support to pass a floor vote. 

Democratic Reps. Jared Golden, D-Maine, and Henry Cuellar, D-Texas have said they won’t support the bill while Republican Reps. Chris Jacobs, R-N.Y., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., have said they are open to voting for a ban, according to The Hill. House Democrats have a four-vote margin. 

The Assault Weapons Ban of 2021 was advanced in a 25-18 vote but a date for a vote on the House floor has not been set. 

“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,” committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said during the bill’s markup. “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.”


Ranking member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, argued 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,” he said. 

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


AR-15 rifles are displayed for sale at the Guntoberfest gun show in Oaks, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 6, 2017.

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

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.”

The bill was first introduced in March of last year. 

Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., looks on during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on July 14, 2022, in Washington, DC. 

The bill comes on the heels of the most sweeping gun control bill to pass the Senate in 30 years following a series of mass shootings, including an elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 students and two teachers dead.

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have also been calling for an assault weapons ban. 

“Assault weapons need to be banned,” Biden said last week at the White House while celebrating the signing of the bipartisan gun law. “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.”

Former President Bill Clinton signed an assault weapons ban in 1994 that expired in 2004. 

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