House Democrats don't have the votes for an assault weapons ban

More than six House Democrats remain uncommitted

Updated: July 20, 2022 - 4:01pm

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Following a string of mass shootings across the country, the Democratic Party has set its sights on restoring the federal assault weapons ban, but many of its own congressional lawmakers remain skeptical of such a move.

Democrats have a 220-seat majority in the 435-member House. With four seats now vacant, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs 216 votes to pass Democrat-sponsored legislation, meaning such a measure could pass in the lower chamber without "yes" votes from four Democrat and no Republican members.

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., sponsored the guns measure, which would ban a plethora of semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines and/or select external features.

More than six House Democrats, however, remain uncommitted to such a ban, delaying or nixing its passage.

Among the uncommitted are Reps. Ron Kind, Wis.; Vicente Gonzalez, Texas; and Tom O'Halleran, Arizona, Politico reports.

Reps. Peter DeFazio, Oregon; Mike Thompson, Calif.; and Jim Cooper, Tenn., did not say how they would vote, though Cooper expressed a desire to wait until he could read the text of the bill.

Others have openly opposed the measure, including Reps. Kurt Schrader, Oregon; Henry Cuellar, Texas; and Jared Golden, Maine.

"This is a bill that destroyed the Democrats in ‘94. I guess, do we really have a death wish list as Democrats?" said Schrader, per Politico.

Democrats passed a federal assault weapons ban in 1994, which expired 10 years later under the Republican administration of President George W. Bush. Republicans gained 54 House seats in the 1994 midterm elections after the ban's passage.

Schrader argues the bill goes too far and undermines the success of a moderate gun control bill that became law earlier this year after receiving bipartisan support.

"It undermines what we already did and reemphasizes to all the people in America that are not hardcore urban Democrats that our party’s out of touch," he said, also according to Politico.

Cicilline, however, was optimistic that the measure will get through the chamber, saying, "When the assault weapons ban comes to the floor, it will pass."