House Passes Bill To Raise Assault Rifle Purchase Age As GOP Pushed Talking Points

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Activists rally against gun violence on June 8, 2022, in Washington, DC, demanding action from lawmakers.
Activists rally against gun violence on June 8, 2022, in Washington, DC, demanding action from lawmakers.

Late Wednesday, the House passed a gun bill to raise the minimum age to purchase an assault rifle in the U.S. from 18 to 21, requiring safe firearms storage, CNBC reports. The ‘Protecting Our Kids Act passed mostly among party lines and in the wake of the mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas. Five Republicans supported the measure, while two Democrats opposed it.

The bill creates new federal offenses for selling or manufacturing large-capacity magazines and using “straw” purchasers for gun trafficking. “Bump stocks,” devices used to make semiautomatic rifles fire in rapid succession, and “ghost guns” would be banned by the legislation. While in good faith, these measures will face almost impossible odds of meeting the 60-vote threshold in the Senate. A bipartisan group of senators are working on their compromises, although who knows how strong that will be.

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Meanwhile, some Republican lawmakers made every effort to state any other reason as to why something like the ‘Protecting Our Kids Act’ wouldn’t work. We rounded up some of them for you to take a look at.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) stated that mass shootings are a symptom of “the failure of the mental health system in America.” Now, a lot of people would agree that mental health services are underfunded and need improvement. But, readily available guns are a problem as well. In the Sen. Cornyn’s state of Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott cut more than $200 million from the mental health department. Not to mention, the Uvalde, Texas shooter was able to purchase two rifles on his 18th birthday because Texas lowered the purchasing age. 

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) spoke about AR-15s and how they are a legitimate need in South Dakota because they are used to “shoot prairie dogs and type of varmints.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert went to the ole ‘thoughts and prayers” playbook and alluded to putting prayer back in schools as a way to combat shootings.

Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) spoke about how privileged her fellow representatives should feel being protected by armed guards, and children should share that same benefit. (because that won’t affect their mental health or anything).

Rep. Greene called for repealing the “Gun-Free School Zones Act” passed in 1990, which imposes criminal penalties for possessing or discharging a firearm in a school zone. Republicans have made a push for more teachers to be armed. For example, an Ohio law will only require teachers to have 24 hours of training before bringing a firearm to class. So, the solution here is to have more people with guns.

Rep. Andy Biggs wants to repurpose unspent COVID relief funds to harden schools. Texas already had school hardening laws on the books, and that still didn’t stop the massing shooting from happening. Also, why is the picture of children doing shooter drills and “hiding behind doors” accepted as an absolute? Again, mental health.

House Republican Whip Steve Scalise compared gun control measures to how leaders reacted to the September 11 terrorist attack. “And airplanes were used that day as the weapon to kill thousands of people and to inflict terror on our country. There wasn’t a conversation about banning airplanes,” Scalise remarked.

We stopped air travel for the entire country that day, created departments like Homeland Security and the TSA, and reinforced cockpit doors. It’s not that we saw airplanes as a problem – we just took steps to make it harder for someone to hurt passengers and use them as a weapon. So, this gun conversation is not to make it so legal gun owners have their guns taken away, but to make it harder for mass shootings to happen. These Republican lawmakers know this, but are beholden to the gun lobbyists who send their campaigns money.