In response to recent shooting incidents in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, the House of Representatives passed a broad gun control bill on Wednesday. The bill would raise the minimum age for acquiring a semi-automatic rifle and prohibit the sale of ammunition magazines with more than 15 rounds of ammunition.
The seemingly never-ending loop of mass shootings in the U.S. has rarely prompted Congress to take action. However, the shooting of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde has rekindled efforts to the point where lawmakers from both parties are discussing the need to respond.
The legislation, which passed on a mostly party-line vote of 223-204, is not set to pass the Senate due to widespread Republican opposition to stricter gun control, according to CNN. Because the Senate is evenly divided, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote, Democrats must persuade ten Republicans to support any legislation.
The House bill combines several Democratic proposals introduced before the recent shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde. The suspects in the Uvalde elementary school and Buffalo supermarket shootings were both 18, according to authorities, when they purchased the semi-automatic weapons used in the attacks. The bill would raise the minimum age for purchasing such weapons to 21.
The Protecting Our Children Act is a collection of individual bills intended to prevent future gun violence. The bill raises the legal purchasing age for certain semiautomatic centerfire rifles from eighteen to twenty-one years old, creates new federal offences for gun trafficking and selling large-capacity magazines, and allows local governments to compensate people who surrender such magazines through a buyback program. Another bill would reinforce existing federal regulations on bump stocks and ghost guns.
A House committee heard heartbreaking testimony from recent gunshot victims and family members, including Miah Cerrillo, an 11-year-old girl who covered herself in the blood of a deceased classmate to avoid being shot at Uvalde Elementary School.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators is meeting to try to find common ground on gun policy. Moreover, it is still unclear whether that effort will result in a compromise.
Last week, Biden advocated for a ban on assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines, as well as an increase in the minimum age to purchase such weapons from eighteen to twenty-one.
According to CNBC, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reaffirmed the Biden administration's support for red-flag laws and stricter background checks on Tuesday.