5 Democrats, 2 Republicans break ranks in House assault weapons vote

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The House of Representatives on Friday voted 217 to 213 to ban assault weapons. The proposal is now heading to the Senate, where it needs the support of 10 Republicans to pass. Assault weapons had been banned in 1994, but the ban expired 10 years later. Something is loading.

The House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill banning semi-automatic weapons. But the legislation is almost certain to fail the Senate 50-50.

The move comes in response to a recent spate of mass shootings, the majority of which were carried out with an assault weapon.

“Make no mistake about it, we know an assault weapons ban can work because it has worked before,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a floor speech.

Assault weapons were banned in the United States in 1994, but Congress failed to reinstate the ban a decade later.

A 2021 study estimated that the 10-year ban likely prevented 10 mass shootings. If the ban had not been allowed to expire, 30 more mass shootings could have been averted, researchers said, saving 339 lives.

Another study, published in 2019, estimated that the previous assault weapons ban prevented nine mass shootings, reducing the number of casualties from such events by 70%.

The renewed ban passed 217-213 almost to party lines. But five Democrats and two Republicans broke with their party to vote with the other camp.

Democratic Representatives Henry Cuellar of Texas, Jared Golden of Maine, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, Ron Kind of Wisconsin and Kurt Schrader of Oregon all voted no.

Meanwhile, Republican Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Chris Jacobs of New York broke ranks and joined most Democrats in supporting an assault weapons ban.

In a statement, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who co-sponsored the 1994 ban, welcomed the House’s passage of a new ban.

“I hope the Senate will follow his lead and pass this common sense bill to end gun violence,” Feinstein said. “Military-grade assault weapons and high-capacity ammo magazines have one goal: to kill as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.”

Any ban will need the support of at least 10 Republicans in the Senate to overcome a GOP filibuster.

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