House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that Democrats will hold a hearing on a possible assault weapons ban, which was excluded from a package of gun reforms the House plans to vote on next week.
“We will soon hold a hearing on an assault weapons ban bill: a step the Congress took decades ago that was proven to save lives and one that the American people support today,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a letter to fellow Democrats.
Pelosi also announced in the letter that the House will vote on a red flag law bill next week, in addition to the broader package of gun reforms, which the House Judiciary Committee prepared for a vote at a meeting Thursday.
It’s not clear the House will get past the committee stage on any legislation to ban assault weapons, because it’s not clear there are enough House Democrats who support such a bill.
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Most Democrats, including President Biden, favor an assault weapons ban. And Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., argued for one at the House Judiciary Committee event Thursday.
“Assault weapons are made to kill… when they’re hit with an assault weapon they cannot be identified. They are obliterated,” Cohen said of children shot with assault weapons. “They are weapons of war and weapons of death and weapons of destruction that we should not permit out here.”
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Cohen said he would not introduce an amendment to the omnibus package to ban assault weapons out of respect to its authors. But Pelosi in her Thursday letter said Democrats are intent on keeping the pressure up for major gun reforms, including by keeping the media focused on gun violence.
“As we go down this path, it is our responsibility to keep gun violence front and center in the media so that, strengthened by public opinion, we can get life-saving legislation over the finish line,” the speaker wrote.
It’s highly unlikely, however, any House legislation will become law, even in the wake of shocking mass shootings in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Uvalde, Texas; and Buffalo, New York. That’s because Republicans are likely to filibuster most Democrat-backed gun control proposals in the Senate.
Several Senate lawmakers, however, are working on a compromise proposal. Lawmakers met both Tuesday and Wednesday in different groups, and their staffs continue to discuss proposals. It’s not yet clear when the next meeting of senators will be, however.