On a 217-213 vote that saw five Democrats jump ship in opposition, and two Republicans crossing the aisle to support it, the U.S. House on Friday passed H.R. 1808, which bans the future sale and manufacture of so-called “assault weapons.”
But it may wind up being a symbolic election year gesture, designed to show voters back home Congress has “done something” about violent crime, because the legislation is not likely to pass the Senate.
The Reuters news agency had a lengthy story about the measure, but this was the lead paragraph: “The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed legislation banning assault-style rifles that have been used in mass shootings, sending it to the Senate where it faces likely defeat.”
Likewise, the New York Times report observed, “It stands no chance of passing in the evenly divided Senate, where such a sweeping gun control measure would not be able to win over the 10 Republicans it would need to overcome a filibuster.”
ABC News also said in its report, “While the bill cleared the House, it’s unlikely to advance in the Senate, where Democrats would need at least 10 Republican votes to overcome the filibuster.”
Veteran gun rights advocate Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), shared the networks’ analysis.
“It will not pass the Senate,” he predicted.
The requirement for a 60-vote majority to overcome a filibuster should stop the measure when Congress returns from its August recess.
However, Gottlieb predicted grassroots Second Amendment activists to put pressure on their senators, especially Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah).
“I expect gun owners will contact all 100 of them (senators),” he said via email.
Reaction from gun rights organizations was swift.
CCRKBA and its sister organization, the Second Amendment Foundation, issued a joint statement:
“Passage today by the U.S. House of Representatives of a ban on so-called ‘assault weapons’ is a slap in the face to tens of millions of law-abiding firearms owners, including the 24 million citizens who lawfully own such firearms and have harmed nobody.
“Supporters of this outrageous legislation have once again demonstrated their willingness to throw honest gun owners and their Second Amendment rights under the bus, rather than deal with the genuine problems of gang violence, lenient prosecutors and judges, and the weakening of our law enforcement agencies.
“Today, House Democrats literally voted to penalize law-abiding gun owners for crimes they did not commit, while blaming firearms rather than criminals and their enablers. It will do nothing to reduce or prevent crime, and will instead further erode the Second Amendment, which appears to be the ultimate goal of these gun control proponents.”
Likewise, the National Rifle Association was furious:
“Barely a month after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen, gun control advocates in Congress are spearheading an assault upon the freedoms and civil liberties of law-abiding Americans. The promises made in HR 1808 are nothing short of a lie based on willful ignorance of the disastrous 1994 Clinton Gun Ban, which failed to produce any significant drop in crime. With more than 24 million potentially-banned firearms in common use, these draconian restrictions fall in blatant opposition to the Supreme Court’s rulings in Bruen, Caetano v. Massachusetts, and DC v. Heller. Their refusal to recognize this reality places everyone at risk. Any legitimate attempt to address our nation’s surge in violent crime cannot commence until anti-gun legislators step away from the radicals who defund our police departments, support prosecutors who refuse to prosecute dangerous criminals, and promote no cash bail policies that have turned once proud communities into a playground of lawlessness and fear.”
The U.S. Concealed Carry Association denounced what it called an “egregious violation of Second Amendment rights.”
“The bill’s attempt to prohibit the AR platform strips Americans of the right to access one of the most popular and effective firearms for self-defense in America today, “ USCCA said, “especially for the most vulnerable individuals in our communities who have a physical disadvantage to their attacker. The legislation comes as communities are experiencing continued surges in violent crime. More Americans than ever have chosen to prioritize personal safety and become their family’s first line of defense. The House of Representatives passed this bill 217-213, with both Republicans and Democrats joining in opposition.
And the National Shooting Sports Foundation condemned the vote.
“This legislation is as dangerous as it is revealing of the contempt for which the House Democrats hold for the Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “Chairman Jerrold Nadler admitted during debate in his committee that he didn’t care the legislation was unconstitutional and defied Supreme Court precedent. Democratic representatives are not fulfilling the interest of ‘the People,’ instead representing special-interest gun control groups that seek to disarm law-abiding citizens and scapegoat them for crimes committed by others.”
During the floor debate, Republicans declared the legislation to be unconstitutional. Democrats played on emotion and repeated oft-heard arguments about why semi-auto rifles should not be allowed for private ownership.
President Joe Biden, who has called for the ban since before he took office, issued a statement.
“The majority of the American people agree with this common sense action,” he asserted. “The should Senate move quickly to get this bill to my desk, and I will not stop fighting until it does.
“There can be no greater responsibility than to do all we can to ensure the safety of our families, our children, our homes, our communities, and our nation,” he said.