House Democrats are preparing to put a nationwide assault weapons ban to a vote, in a bid to force Republicans to go on record against the measure after a string of mass shootings.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., made the announcement on Friday, according to The Hill, though the exact date for the vote remains unclear.
“It is beyond frightening and disturbing that a weapon that was designed as a tool of war has found its way into the hands of 18 year olds and onto our streets,” Nadler said in a statement. “Any weapon that allows for the quick and efficient slaughter of children in our schools has no place in our communities.”
The bill, should it become law, would ban the sale and manufacture of certain semi-automatic weapons with detachable magazines that also feature certain grips and other aesthetic accessories, the outlet noted. It will not apply to existing gun owners.
Sponsored by Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., the bill has 211 cosponsors and is likely to pass the House, where Democrats currently hold a majority, but will face a significant hurdle in the Senate in the face of a prospective filibuster and the absence of Republican support in the chamber.
Few Republicans support an assault weapons ban, arguing it would infringe on the Second Amendment. New York Republican Rep. Chris Jacobs announced in late May that he would support a federal ban on assault weapons but faced significant pushback from both the GOP and his constituents that he declined to seek reelection in November.
The prospectively illegal rifles rank among the most widely owned in America, The Hill noted. The United States imposed a federal ban in 1994 under Democratic President Bill Clinton, but it expired in 2004 when George W. Bush, a Republican, was president.
Several U.S. states have enacted assault weapons bans in the wake of mass shootings such as New York, which passed the Secure Ammunition and Fire Arm Enforcement (SAFE) Act in 2013, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. New York's law largely defines "assault weapons" as semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines that also have a folding or telescoping stock; a protruding pistol grip; a thumbhole stock; a second handgrip or protruding grip; a bayonet mount; a flash suppressor; a muzzle brake, a muzzle compensator; a threaded barrel; or a grenade launcher. New York gun owners can legally own rifles with these features if they install a magazine lock that imposes an additional step when reloading.