House passes package of gun control bills in response to Buffalo and Uvalde shootings

Washington— The Democrat-led House on Wednesday passed legislation tightening the country’s gun laws, as lawmakers in both houses mount a response to a pair of mass shootings in New York and Texas that shook the country. .

The legislation passed mostly along party lines 223-204, with five Republicans joining all but two Democrats.

Called the “Protecting Our Kids Act,” the legislation is a package of eight gun control laws that cleared the House Justice Committee along party lines last week. The House’s action comes after members of the Oversight and Reform Committee I heard heartbreaking testimony of a fourth grader who survived the Robb Elementary Shotas well as people who lost loved ones in the mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and buffalo, new york.

“It was an attack on our country’s culture that our children could not go to school without fear or concern for their safety,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in comments on the House floor as lawmakers gathered to debate the project. “Our children are, as President Kennedy said, our greatest resource and our best hope for the future. They are our precious treasure, and everything we do is for children, and for children we must stop this gun violence in our country and restore their confidence in their safety wherever they are. So we are on a crusade for the children and, unfortunately, now, for the children.”

House Republican leaders urged their members to vote against the measure, arguing that it is a “reactionary package” made up of proposals that violate Americans’ Second Amendment rights and hamper their ability to protect themselves.

Despite opposition from the Republican Party, the legislation has still passed the House, although it is unlikely to pass the Senate 50-50, where 60 votes are needed for the bills to overcome obstruction and move forward. In the upper house, a bipartisan group of senators has been working on a more tailored plan to curb gun violence, and negotiators are with the aim of reaching a consensus in a measure by the end of the week. At least 10 senators met on Wednesday to discuss gun reforms.

Still, Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat who is a top negotiator, said Tuesday during an event at a gun violence memorial on the National Mall that the House bill will put pressure on the Senate to “do the right thing.” “. “

As senators continue to work to reach consensus on legislation to reform firearms laws, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her fellow Democrats in a letter Tuesday that the “urgent” package includes provisions that “will save lives and give hope”.

She called for all Democrats to be present on the House floor for the two hours of debate leading up to the vote in a show of support for gun violence survivors and those killed.

Quickly moved by lawmakers after the massacres at a grocery store in Buffalo and an elementary school in Uvalde that together took the lives of 31 adults and children, the Protecting Our Kids Act would raise the minimum age to buy a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21 years old. and ban large-capacity magazines. The legislation also encourages the safe storage of firearms and establishes requirements that regulate the storage of firearms in residential facilities, and builds on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms regulatory ban on bump stocks, which allows semi-automatic rifles to fire faster. .

The lower house will also this week consider a plan by Representative Lucy McBath, a Georgia Democrat who lost her son to gun violence, that would allow family members and law enforcement officials to obtain an extreme risk protection order from a federal court to temporarily remove access to firearms for those deemed a danger to themselves or others.

In response to the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings, President Joe Biden lobbied Congress to send legislation to his desk strengthening federal gun laws. In a speech to the nation last week, President repeatedly declared “enough” how he mourned the lives lost to gun violence.

“How much carnage are we willing to accept? How many innocent American lives must be taken before we say enough is enough? Enough,” the president said.

Biden, as he has done before, urged lawmakers to reinstate the 1994 ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, which has now expired, strengthen background checks, and enact safe storage and red flag laws. He also lobbied Congress to revoke immunity that protects gun makers from liability.

But many of these proposals are unlikely to gain traction among Senate Republicans, and members involved in the negotiations are discussing a narrow plan that includes more funding for mental health resources, expanding background checks and encouraging states to enact red flag laws. . .

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Tuesday that members “really hope to get an outcome that makes a difference in the areas of mental health, school safety and things related to the incidents that took place in Texas and Buffalo.” “.

Jack Turman contributed to this report

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