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Democrats Make New Bid to Reinstate an Assault-Weapons Ban

·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- House Democrats are making another bid for stricter gun laws, almost a month after Congress passed firearms legislation for the first time in three decades and Americans continue to express concern about gun violence.

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The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday took up a new assault weapons ban that would end the sale of semi-automatic rifles that can fire multiple rounds in a matter of seconds like those used in recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, Uvalde, Texas, and Highland Park, Illinois. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on protecting communities from mass shootings with testimony from Highland Park Mayor Nancy R. Rotering.

“These are weapons of war. They don’t just kill, they decimate,” said Representative David Cicilline, the Rhode Island Democrat who sponsored the assault weapons ban.

Gun violence was ranked as the most urgent issue facing the nation by 12% of Americans in a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, second only to inflation, which was cited by 34%. Almost half of US adults said they personally worry about being a victim of a mass shooting, the poll found.

Still, there is no sign that Republicans would entertain new firearms regulations, cutting any chance legislation would pass the Senate. It’s also not clear that all Democrats would go along. Nine House Democrats haven’t signed on as co-sponsors of the assault weapons ban bill. Democratic Representatives Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Tom O’Halleran of Arizona have said they are undecided, while Henry Cuellar of Texas has already said he will oppose it.

Congress passed an assault weapons ban in 1994, but it expired after 10 years. Past attempts by Democrats to revive it have failed.

Senator John Cornyn, the Texas Republican who helped negotiate the bipartisan bill passed in June, said in the Senate hearing he does not want to go further than that legislation.

“One thing I’m unwilling to do is to erode the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” he said.

The hearing opened with pictures of victims of the Highland Park attack, and a montage of clips from the shootings and experts speaking to the power of AR-15 style rifles. Rotering, the Democratic mayor of the Illinois city, told the stories of the victims and said mass shootings by semi-automatic weapons have become the “norm in our country.”

“Highland Park had the uniquely American experience of a fourth of July parade turn into what has now become a uniquely American experience of a mass shooting. How do we call this freedom?” Rotering said.

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