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U.S. House votes to lift age to purchase an assault rifle to 21


The House on Wednesday passed a sweeping gun bill that might raise the minimum age to buy an assault rifle within the U.S. from 18 to 21, although the laws doesn’t stand much of a probability within the Senate.

The bill, called the Protecting Our Kids Act, would also bar the sale of large-capacity magazines and institute latest rules that dictate proper at-home gun storage.

The Democratic-held chamber approved the laws in a 223-204 vote. It passed in a mostly party line vote: Five Republicans supported the measure, while two Democrats opposed it.

The House earlier voted by a 228 to 199 margin to incorporate the purchasing age provision — under heavy scrutiny after two recent massacres carried out by 18-year-olds — within the broader bill.

The package is a set of several pieces of laws designed to limit access to guns and other firearm equipment within the wake of last month’s mass shootings in Buffalo, Recent York, and Uvalde, Texas, that left 31 Americans dead.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks at a rally with gun violence prevention organizations, gun violence survivors and a whole lot of gun safety supporters demanding gun laws, ouside the US Capitol in Washington, June 8, 2022.

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

One other component of the laws, called the Untraceable Firearms Act, would bolster regulations around so-called ghost guns, or those firearms with out a serial number. It is much harder for law enforcement to trace ownership and possession of firearms that lack serial numbers.

While House Democrats passed stronger gun laws in response to the massacres, their success is basically symbolic. Senate Republicans, who’ve the ability to dam laws with a filibuster that requires 60 votes to beat, are united of their opposition to the House’s restrictions on guns and can block the bill from advancing.

The 50-50 split within the Senate, which supplies Vice President Kamala Harris the important thing tie-breaking vote, means Democrats must persuade 10 Republicans to endorse any laws. A bipartisan group of senators are negotiating a narrower compromise bill that they are saying would strengthen background checks, improve mental health services and bolster school security.

Political analysts say that neither the May 24 elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, nor the May 14 racist rampage at a supermarket in Buffalo, Recent York, are prone to drum up enough support for the bill passed by the House.

A gunman at Robb Elementary in Uvalde shot 19 children and two teachers to death, while the attacker in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo killed 10 people. Each gunmen were 18 years old and carried AR-15 style assault rifles.

Parents of the victims, law enforcement officials and one 11-year-old Uvalde shooting survivor appeared before Congress on Wednesday to induce lawmakers to pass latest gun laws.

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Kimberly Rubio, mother to slain 10-year-old Lexi Rubio, told lawmakers through tears that she doesn’t want her daughter remembered as “only a number.”

“She was intelligent, compassionate and athletic. She was quiet, shy unless she had some extent to make,” Rubio told the House Oversight Committee. “Somewhere on the market, there’s a mom listening to our testimony pondering, ‘I can not even imagine their pain,’ not knowing that our reality will someday be hers. Unless we act now.”

Within the wake of the 2 massacres, Senate Leaders Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blessed bipartisan talks within the upper chamber on a narrower set of recent firearm rules.

Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, and Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, are leading those deliberations, which have up to now focused on stronger background checks and red flag laws.

Red flag laws allow members of the family, co-workers or police to petition a court to seize a person’s weapons for a set period of time if the person is deemed to be a threat to themselves or the general public.

The bipartisan Senate ideas — while far less stringent — are Democrats’ best shot to send any gun laws to the desk of President Joe Biden for signature into law. The president, who has called upon federal lawmakers to pass any tighter gun laws, met with Murphy on Tuesday to debate the bipartisan negotiations.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday that Biden supports red-flag laws and more-rigorous background checks.

“We understand not every component of what the president is looking for goes to stop every tragedy,” Jean-Pierre said. “But we now have to take the steps, and we now have to maneuver forward, and we now have to do something.”

Despite overwhelming support from congressional Democrats and the White House, latest gun laws faces difficult odds within the Senate, aides say, for the reason that overwhelming majority of Republicans would never vote for even slightly-more-strict gun bills.

Cornyn acknowledged that political reality from the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon, but struck an upbeat tone on the cross-party talks.

“I’m glad to say on this topic we’re making regular progress. It’s early in the method, but I’m optimistic about where things stand straight away,” he said. “What am I optimistic about? I’m optimistic that we will pass a bill within the Senate, it might pass the House and it’ll get a signature by President Biden. And it’ll turn into the law of the land.”

The Texas Republican said he’s focused on the importance of ensuring young adults have access to mental health services and that schools have sufficient security protocols.

He also noted that one other idea into consideration is a law that might require states to upload juvenile records into the National Quick Criminal Background Check System.

“Because this young man in Uvalde turned 18 and there was no lookback at his juvenile record, he passed a background check. It’s as if he were born on his 18th birthday and that nothing that had happened before was essential,” Cornyn said. “That is obviously an issue.”

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