House panel advances gun bill after recent mass shootings

Jun 1, 2022, 9:03 PM | Updated: Jun 3, 2022, 7:50 am
With photos of the young victims in Uvalde, Texas, behind her, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, sp...

With photos of the young victims in Uvalde, Texas, behind her, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, speaks in support of Democratic gun control measures, called the Protecting Our Kids Act, in response to mass shootings in Texas and New York, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 2, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A House panel advanced legislation Thursday that would raise the age limit for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21 as Democrats moved quickly to put their stamp on gun legislation in response to mass shootings in Texas and New York by assailants who used such weapons to kill 31 people, including 19 children.

The vote came as President Joe Biden gave a prime-time speech about the shootings and told Americans, “Let’s hear the call and the cry, let’s meet the moment, let us finally do something.”

Partisan positions were clear at the Judiciary Committee hearing, which lasted more than nine hours. In addition to raising the age limit for purchasing semi-automatic rifles, the bill also would make it a federal offense to import, manufacture or possess large-capacity magazines and would create a grant program to buy back such magazines.

It also builds on the administration’s executive action banning fast-action “bump-stock” devices and “ghost guns” that are assembled without serial numbers.

The final vote to advance the bill was 25-19, with Democrats accounting for all the yes votes and Republicans accounting for all the no votes.

The Democratic legislation, called the Protecting Our Kids Act, was quickly added to the legislative docket after last week’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., promised in a letter to Democratic colleagues Thursday that the House will vote on the measure next week, and she promised other votes in the weeks ahead, including on a bill to to create an Amber Alert-style notification during a mass shooting. Pelosi also pledged a hearing on a bill banning military-style semiautomatic rifles.

But with Republicans nearly all in opposition, the House action will mostly be symbolic, merely putting lawmakers on record about gun control ahead of this year’s elections. The Senate is taking a different course, with a bipartisan group striving toward a compromise on gun safety legislation that can win enough GOP support to become law. Those talks are making “rapid progress,” according to Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, one of the Republican negotiators.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, defended his chamber’s proposals as popular with most Americans. He dismissed Republican criticism.

“You say that it is too soon to take action? That we are ‘politicizing’ these tragedies to enact new policies?” Nadler said. “It has been 23 years since Columbine. Fifteen years since Virginia Tech. Ten years since Sandy Hook. Seven years since Charleston. Four years since Parkland and Santa Fe and Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.”

“Too soon? My friends, what the hell are you waiting for?”

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the committee, said no one wants another tragedy. But he insisted the House bill would do nothing to stop mass shootings.

“We need to get serious about understanding why this keeps happening. Democrats are always fixated on curtailing the rights of law-abiding citizens rather than trying to understand why this evil happens,” Jordan said. “Until we figure out the why, we will always mourn losses without facing the problem. Our job is to figure out the why.”

A chief feature of the House bill requires those buying semi-automatic weapons to be at least 21. Only six states require someone to be at least 21 years old to buy rifles and shotguns. The shooters in Uvalde and Buffalo, New York, both were 18 and used an AR-15-style weapon.

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said that it should be a red flag when an 18-year-old wants to buy “an assault weapon.”

“That’s what they want on their 18th birthday is an assault weapon? They’ve got a problem, which means we’ve got a problem, which means those 19 kids and their parents and those two teachers have a problem, forever,” Cohen said, referring to the victims in Uvalde.

Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., pointed to a U.S. appeals court ruling last month, however, that found California’s ban on the sale of semiautomatic weapons to adults under 21 unconstitutional.

“I can tell you this, and let me be clear, you are not going to bully your way to stripping Americans of fundamental rights,” Bishop said.

The hearing featured emotional pleas from Democratic lawmakers for Congress to respond to the mass shootings after years of gridlock on gun issues, one of the most riveting coming from Rep. Lucy McBath of Georgia.

She recalled how her son, Jordan, was shot and killed at a gas station by a man who complained about the loud music he was listening to. She said she dreams of who he would have become. She said racial bias led to his death and those of 10 Black Americans in Buffalo last month and is “being replayed with casual callousness and despicable frequency” in the United States.

“We all understand that the murder of our children cannot continue,” McBath said. “And we have solutions that a majority of American people believe in. They are common-sense compromises that will keep American children alive.”

Several lawmakers participated in the hearing remotely, including Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., who brandished various pistols in arguing that the bill’s provision banning large-capacity magazines of more than 10 rounds amounted to stopping law-abiding citizens from purchasing guns of their choice.

When Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, remarked that she hoped one of the guns Steube was holding was not loaded, Steube replied, “I’m in my house, I can do whatever I want with my guns.” It was one of several pointed exchanges during the hearing.

Any legislative response to the Uvalde and Buffalo shootings will have to get through the evenly divided Senate, where support from at least 10 Republicans would be needed to advance the measure to a final vote. A group of senators has been working privately this week in hopes of finding a consensus.

Ideas under discussion include expanding background checks for gun purchases and incentivizing red-flag laws that allow family members, school officials and others to go into court and secure orders requiring the police to seize guns from people considered threats to themselves or others.

___

This version corrects to say Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee was the lawmaker who remarked that that she hoped a gun being shown remotely at the hearing wasn’t loaded, not Rep. Jerrold Nadler.

___

Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Pr...
Associated Press

WHO panel says Monkeypox is not a global emergency ‘at this stage’

LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization said the escalating monkeypox outbreak in more than 50 countries should be closely monitored but does not warrant being declared a global health emergency. In a statement Saturday, a WHO emergency committee said many aspects of the outbreak were “unusual” and acknowledged that monkeypox — which is endemic […]
20 hours ago
Police in riot gear surround the Arizona Capitol after protesters reached the front of the Arizona ...
Associated Press

Dueling narratives of Arizona protests ended with tear gas

PHOENIX (AP) — Protests outside the Arizona Capitol over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade that ended with a volley of tear gas were variously described Saturday as either peaceful or driven by anarchists intent on destruction. Republican Senate President Karen Fann issued a news release describing it as a thwarted […]
20 hours ago
Emergency personnel look over the sight of a  helicopter that crashed in Blair, W.Va., on Thursday,...
Associated Press

West Virginia helicopter crash victims identified

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Medical examiners in West Virginia have released the names of six people killed in the crash of a Vietnam-era helicopter that gave tour rides. The aircraft crashed Wednesday during its last planned flight at an annual reunion for helicopter enthusiasts in Logan County. All six people aboard were killed. The state’s […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

Army private’s plea shelved internet fantasy chat defense

NEW YORK (AP) — An Army private charged with plotting to murder members of his unit overseas with help from a secretive violent anarchist group was planning a defense calling it all an internet fantasy before pleading guilty just before trial, court records show. Plans for the defense of Ethan Phelan Melzer was revealed in […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

Jury awards $21M to family of pregnant teen shot by police

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A federal jury awarded $21 million to the family of a pregnant teen who was shot and killed by undercover police officers in Northern California five years ago, attorneys said. Elena Mondragon was a passenger in a BMW pulling out of a Hayward apartment complex when an unmarked van filled […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

LAPD officer who died was beaten in training, mother claims

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles police officer who died of neck injuries suffered during training had been beaten by fellow officers in an exercise meant to “simulate a mob,” according to a wrongful-death claim filed against the city by his mother. Houston Tipping, 32, was hurt May 26 at the police academy and […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
...
Canvas Annuity

The secret to guaranteed retirement income

Annuities aren’t really a secret, but they are so misunderstood that they might as well be. Once you understand what an annuity is and how it can benefit you, you could decide this “secret” is the perfect supplement to your retirement plan.
House panel advances gun bill after recent mass shootings