On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Protecting Our Kids Act,” hours after witnesses testified about the effects of the shootings last month in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.
The bill, which passed 223-204, included a wide range of gun control legislation, including increasing the age at which a person can purchase certain weapons to regulating “bump stops” and “ghost guns.”
The vote broke down mostly along party lines with five Republicans — Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Fred Upton of Michigan, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Chris Jacobs of New York — voting for the bill. Two Democrats — Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon — voted against it.
While the bill passed in the House, it is not expected to pass in the Senate. Democrats would need to persuade 10 Republicans to vote with them to pass any legislation on gun control.
“We are on a crusade for the children, and — sadly now — by the children. Children testifying in committee,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said during the floor debate in the House chamber. Pelosi was referencing Robb Elementary School fourth grader Miah Cerrillo, who offered videotaped testimony Wednesday before a House committee.
“America has lost more children from gun violence than any other cause. Does that embarrass you? To think that in our country, more children have died from gun violence than any other cause? These stories are tragically all too common in America today.”
While some Republican members of Congress have said they are open to some legislation on gun issues, the House is seen by some as trampling on constitutional rights.
“Here they come — going after law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment liberties,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said.
“The speaker started by saying this bill is about protecting our kids. That is important. … That’s what she said, ‘protecting our kids is important.’ Yes, it is. But this bill doesn’t do it. What this bill does is take away Second Amendment rights, God-given rights, protected by our Constitution from law-abiding American citizens. That’s what this legislation does, and that’s why we should oppose it.”
According to The Washington Post, a group of bipartisan members of the Senate is exploring a package “that could include legislation encouraging states to create red-flag systems, a modest expansion of background checks to incorporate juvenile records, as well as funding for mental health programs and school security improvements.”
Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, the lead member of the GOP side of the Senate negotiations, said that “steady progress” was being made on a bipartisan deal on certain measures, the Post reported. Cornyn declined to say when a deal might be reached.
What’s in the House bill?
The bill includes measures that would:
· Raise the legal age to buy certain semiautomatic centerfire rifles from 18 to 21 years old.
· Establish new federal offenses for gun trafficking and for selling large-capacity magazines.
· Allow local governments to compensate individuals who surrender such magazines through a buyback program.
· Create new safe-storage requirements for gun owners.
· Codify executive orders that ban untraceable “ghost guns,” as well as “bump stock” devices that allow a person to fire a semiautomatic rifle more quickly.