House votes to ban some semi-automatic weapons

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The U.S. House voted narrowly on Friday to ban the sale and manufacture of some semi-automatic firearms, as Democrats argued that the guns were not protected by the Constitution and were used by mass shooters to kill as many people as possible.

“The assault weapons ban would take the weapons of war off our streets and save countless lives,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York.

Republicans countered that the firearms were among the most popular in the country for gun owners and were fully protected by the Second Amendment.

Democrats “want to take all guns from all people because they can’t stand the Second Amendment,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

More:'Americans deserve to be safe': House passes assault weapons ban that has little chance in Senate

Republican Rep. Tom Cole, shown here speaking at Tinker Air Force Base in April, argued Friday that a ban on semi-automatic weapons was unconstitutional.
Republican Rep. Tom Cole, shown here speaking at Tinker Air Force Base in April, argued Friday that a ban on semi-automatic weapons was unconstitutional.

A bill to ban the future sale of the firearms was approved 217 to 213, mostly along partisan lines. Two Republicans voted for it, while five Democrats voted against. The bill largely mirrors a similar ban approved by Congress in 1994 and signed by then-President Bill Clinton. That legislation expired in 2004.

All five Oklahoma members of the U.S. House voted against the legislation, which is unlikely to be approved by the Senate.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, said the bill “constitutes the greatest attack on the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners that I have seen during my time here in Congress. … Rather than protecting the rights enshrined in the Second Amendment, H.R. 1808 would ban a broad group of firearms, including some of the most popular firearms on the market today.”

The White House endorsed the bill before the vote, saying, “We know an assault weapons and large-capacity magazine ban will save lives. In 1994, then-Senator (Joe) Biden played a leading role in securing a ten-year ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. For those ten years, mass shootings declined. When the ban expired in 2004, mass shootings tripled.”

Republicans argued strenuously on Friday that the ten-year ban had not been effective.

“If you think crime went down because of the last assault weapons ban, then you’ve got some explaining to do because the number of those rifles increased,” said Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky. “Maybe, just maybe, people became safer.”

More:More mass shooters are using semi-automatic rifles – often bought legally

The bill was brought to the House floor on short notice. Democratic leaders had planned to bring a package of public safety bills up for consideration earlier this week but shelved the legislation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a note to Democrats on Friday that work on the entire package was ongoing.

“Today, our Democratic Majority will take up and pass the Assault Weapons Ban legislation: a crucial step in our ongoing fight against the deadly epidemic of gun violence in our nation,” she said.

The vote came about a month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects the right to carry a concealed handgun, expanding on its earlier decisions that handgun ownership was a constitutional right. Federal courts have split on whether the Second Amendment protects ownership of semi-automatic weapons.

Also last month, Congress approved and President Joe Biden signed a bill to expand background checks of potential gun owners between 18 and 21 and to encourage states to pass so-called red flag laws aimed at keeping guns away from those who may be a threat to themselves or others.

According to the House Judiciary Committee, the bill passed Friday would:

∎Ban the import, sale, production or transfer of all semi-automatic rifles that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one of these military features — pistol grip; forward grip; folding, telescoping or detachable stock; grenade launcher; barrel shroud; or threaded barrel;

∎Ban all semi-automatic rifles that have a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.

∎Ban all semi-automatic pistols that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one of the following military features — a threaded barrel; a second pistol grip; a barrel shroud; a capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol grip; or a semi-automatic version of an automatic firearm.

∎Ban all semi-automatic shotguns that have at least one of the following — a folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; a pistol grip; a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than five rounds; an ability to accept a detachable magazine; a forward grip; a grenade launcher; or a shotgun with a revolving cylinder.

∎Ban high-capacity feeding devices (magazines, strips, and drums) capable of accepting more than 10 rounds.

According to the committee, the bill would not affect firearms or large-capacity ammunition feeding devices lawfully possessed before enactment of the ban and would not apply to “antique firearms, manually-operated firearms, and more than 2,000 specified models of hunting and sporting firearms.”

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: House votes to ban assault weapons, with Oklahoma members opposed