House passes gun safety legislation with almost all Republicans voting against it

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Instead of supporting gun safety legislation, House Republican lawmakers blamed mass shootings on smartphones, door locks, and 'taking God’s name in vain.'

The House of Representatives passed a package of gun safety legislation Wednesday night in an attempt to address the rise of gun violence following the recent mass shooting incidents in  Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.

The Protecting Our Kids Act, H.R. 7910, is a package of multiple bills that would raise the age limit for purchasing certain semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, require safe storage of firearms, limit large-capacity magazines and other ammunition-feeding devices, and require serial numbers on guns to ban untraceable "ghost" guns. The package would enact new federal criminal offenses for gun trafficking and straw purchases of firearms, the illegal buying of a firearm by one person for another who is not legally permitted to own one.

It would also close the so-called "bump-stock loophole." Bump stocks are devices that can be attached to guns to increase firing capacity. In 2017, a mass shooter in Las Vegas, Nevada, used 13 rifles equipped with bump stocks to kill 58 people and injure hundreds more, firing a total of 1,049 rounds in just 11 minutes.

The House voted 223-204 to pass the package along party lines. Just five Republicans —  Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Chris Jacobs (R-NY), and Fred Upton (R-MI) — joined almost every House Democrat in voting for the bill. The bill now heads to the Senate, but it is unlikely to gain enough Republican support to clear the 60-vote threshold needed.

"To those when a moment of silence is 'good enough' because you don't have the courage to take a vote to protect the children, I would say your political survival is totally insignificant compared to the survival of our children," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor.

The May 24 Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, left two teachers and 19 children dead. The May 14 shooting at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, left 10 people dead. Both gunmen were 18 years old and carried AR-15-style assault rifles. 

Nearly 250 mass shootings have already taken place nationwide this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.  There have been at least four mass shootings every week so far this year, the Washington Post reported.

Instead of acknowledging the rising threat of gun violence and acting to combat it, House Republicans made comments suggesting that future mass shootings could be prevented by looking at things like smartphones, doors, locks, and security cameras, and by not 'taking God's name in vain.'

"What happened in Uvalde, Buffalo, and Tulsa is as wrong as wrong could be, and our hearts go out to those communities and those families who have been impacted in such a terrible way, but the answer is not to destroy the Second Amendment," Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said on the House floor. "But that is exactly where the Democrats want to go."

Republican leadership sent a notice Tuesday night telling all House Republicans to vote against common-sense gun safety legislation, referring to it as the "Unconstitutional Gun Restrictions Act."

Additionally, every House Republican also voted against a resolution introduced by Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) that condemned the white supremacist "great replacement" theory, which posits that white people are being "replaced" by people of color. The resolution was adopted as part of a broader rules package on gun legislation.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.