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The House of Representatives passed a sweeping gun control bill on Wednesday in response to recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas. that would raise the minimum age to buy semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21 and ban the sale of ammunition and magazines with a capacity of more than 15 rounds.
The vote was 228 to 199, mostly along party lines, with nearly all Democrats voting “yes.” and all but a small group of Republicans voting “no” on retaining the policy in a larger arms package.
The legislation passed has almost no chance of becoming law as the Senate conducts negotiations focused on improving mental health programs, bolstering school safety and improve background checks.
But the House bill allows Democratic lawmakers the chance to frame voters in November where they stand on policies that polls show have broad support.
“We can’t save every life, but, my God, shouldn’t we try? The United States listens to you and today in the House we are taking the measures you demand,” said Representative Veronica Escobar, Texas Democrat. “Take note of who is with you and who is not.”
The push comes after a House committee heard harrowing testimony from recent shooting victims and family members, including 11-year-old Miah Cerrillo, who covered herself in the blood of a dead classmate to avoid being shot in Uvalde Primary School.
The seemingly endless cycle of mass shootings in the United States has rarely prompted Congress to act. But the shooting of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde has reignited efforts such that lawmakers from both parties speak of the need to respond.
“It’s disgusting, it’s disgusting that our children are being forced to live in this constant fear,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Pelosi said the House vote “would make history by making progress.” But it’s unclear where the House measure will go after Wednesday’s vote, as Republicans stood firm in their opposition.
The House bill also includes incentives designed to increase the use of secure gun storage devices and creates penalties for violating secure storage requirements.providing a fine and imprisonment of up to five years if a weapon is not stored properly and is subsequently used by a minor to injure or commit suicide.
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