House approves assault weapons ban that Senate likely won’t clear

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The House on Friday passed legislation to ban high-powered firearms of the kind used in recent mass shootings across the country, though it’s unlikely to become law anytime soon.

The 2022 assault weapons ban would prohibit the manufacture and sale of certain types of semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and pistols, with the exception of antique weapons and certain sports models.

The bill passed in the House 217-213, with five Democrats voting against and two Republicans in favor. Loud cheers erupted in the room as the legislation was passed after several hours of debate.

During the debate period, Republican after Republican rose on the House floor, calling the bill “unconstitutional,” warning voters that Democratic lawmakers wanted to “get your guns.” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) suggested it would be better “to ban democratic thinking in the big cities, which just makes the crime rates explode.”

The legislation would not affect weapons legally acquired before they come into effect. In the United States, according to a 2018 study, there are about 120.5 guns for every 100 residents ― and people continue to buy guns. It is the only country known to outnumber its citizens.

There is debate about the effectiveness of the 1994 ban. There is some evidence that it was most effective right before it expired, given the way its impact was designed to unfold over time by influencing future transactions .

However, it’s highly unlikely that the legislation will gain enough support in the Senate to overcome that chamber’s filibuster rule, which requires 60 senators to agree to put a bill to vote. The 50 Senate Democrats are unlikely to convince 10 of their Republican colleagues to agree to a vote on a measure their party is firmly opposed to.

Still, proponents of better gun control policies see the vote as an opportunity to notify every member of Congress about gun violence.

While public opinion polls on guns can be flawed based on how the questions are asked, a large majority of Americans prefer specific gun control policies, such as background checks and red flag laws. About 63% of Americans support a ban on assault weapons, according to a 2021 report from the Pew Research Center.

Lydia O’Connor contributed reporting.