- Nancy Pelosi called the bill an important step in the ongoing fight against the deadly epidemic of gun violence.
- Biden says guns have become the number one killer of children in America.
- Republican lawmakers pushed back against their Democratic colleagues.
Washington: The US House of Representatives, spurred by a series of horrific mass shootings, passed a bill on Friday that would ban assault weapons for the first time in decades.
The legislation passed the Democratic-dominated House by a vote of 217 to 213 and now heads to the Senate – where it is likely to fail.
Gun reform in the United States remains deeply divided — despite the deadly scourge of mass shootings — with only two Republicans joining Democrats in supporting an assault weapons ban in the House.
In the 100-member Senate, Democrats hold just 50 seats and 10 Republican votes are needed to pass a measure.
Congress passed a 10-year ban on assault rifles and some high-capacity magazines in 1994, but lawmakers let it expire in 2004, and gun sales have soared since then.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the latest bill “an important step in the ongoing fight against the deadly epidemic of gun violence in our nation.”
It would ban the sale, importation, manufacture or transfer of certain semi-automatic weapons such as those used in the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, Uvalde, Texas, and Highland Park, Illinois.
In May, a white supremacist shot and killed 10 African Americans at a Buffalo supermarket.
That same month, an 18-year-old man killed 19 schoolchildren and two teachers at an elementary school in Owolde, and seven people were shot dead at a July 4 parade in Highland Park. .
After the Uvalde massacre, President Joe Biden urged lawmakers to re-ban assault rifles or at least raise the minimum age to purchase them from 18 to 21.
But Republican lawmakers, who see such a ban as a violation of the constitutional right to bear arms, have refused to go along.
In a statement, Biden said that “40,000 Americans die from gunshot wounds every year and guns are the number one killer of children in America.
“We know that banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines will save lives,” he said.
A House committee said in a report released this week that U.S. gunmakers have made $1 billion over the past decade from sales of AR-15-style semiautomatic weapons.
“The gun industry has filled and enriched our neighborhoods, our schools and even our churches and houses of worship with these deadly weapons,” said Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney.
“They are choosing their bottom line over the lives of their fellow Americans,” the New York lawmaker said at a hearing attended by families of gun violence victims.
Republican lawmakers pushed back against their Democratic colleagues.
Rep. James Comer of Kentucky said gun manufacturers don’t cause violent crime. “Criminals Cause Violent Crime.”
“We will continue to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners to safely use, store and carry firearms, including the AR-15,” Comer said.