Gun control resisted by Republicans

Republicans criticise US House gun control bill in response to Texas shooting

Republicans in the US House of Representatives on Thursday objected to a Democratic attempt to advance new limits on gun purchases following last week's massacre at a Texas primary school and another mass shooting in a New York state supermarket.

By Richard Cowan

The House Judiciary Committee met in an “emergency” session in the midst of a week-long Memorial Day recess as funerals were under way in Uvalde, Texas, for some of the 19 children and two teachers gunned down by an 18-year-old with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle.

Democrats who narrowly control the House intend to put their 41-page “Protecting Our Kids Act” to a vote by the full chamber next week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

President Joe Biden’s party holds enough votes to pass the bill in the House, but it faces slim chances in the 50-50 Senate, where 60 votes are required to advance most legislation. Republicans in Congress strongly advocate for gun rights.

“It’s regretful that Democrats have rushed to a markup today in what seems like political theatre,” the top Republican on the panel, Representative Jim Jordan, said. He added, “Our hearts go out to the Uvalde community.”

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators is trying to craft a narrow bill. It might focus on boosting school security and possibly enacting a “red flag” law allowing authorities to seize guns bought by people suffering from mental illness. Previous such efforts have fallen flat.

Biden is expected to call on Congress to act during a national address at 7:30pm EDT (2330 GMT) on gun violence.

The broader House bill couples a handful of already pending measures. It would raise the minimum age for buying certain guns to 21 from 18 and clamp down on weapons trafficking. It also would restrict large-capacity ammunition feeding devices.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, opened debate noting the 400 million firearms in the country and the 45,000 Americans killed by gun violence in 2020.

Anticipating Republican arguments that Democrats were moving too fast following the Uvalde killings on May 24, Nadler said, “Too soon? My friends, what the hell are you waiting for?” He recounted the long string of school shootings over the last few decades.

Republicans accused Democrats of trampling on the U.S. Constitution’s 2nd Amendment, which protects the right to keep and bear arms.

Democrats argued that right is not without limits, as they recounted tales of young children questioning whether they would live through the next day’s classes. Representative Madeleine Dean said she was told of students being coached to throw their art-class scissors at shooters if confronted by a mass murderer.


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