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WASHINGTON — The U.S. House approved the Assault Weapons Ban on Friday, a bill that would impose the first ban in decades on semi-automatic weapons. It follows mass shootings in Uvalde and across the country, and members of the Texas delegation voted mostly along party lines.
Reps. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, were the only Texans to buck their party when they voted against the bill, which appears destined to fail in the Senate. The two members were among five House Democrats to oppose the legislation, which narrowly passed on a 217-213 vote.
The bill would ban the importing, manufacturing, selling, transferring or possession of certain types of semi-automatic weapons. It would cover semi-automatic pistols and rifles that accept detachable magazines and have certain types of barrels, grips and stocks.
The passage of the legislation comes after years of mass shootings, including the shootings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde and at a church in Sutherland Springs, where the gunmen used such weapons. Some Democrats spoke in favor of the legislation on the House floor Friday while standing next to photos of the victims of the Uvalde shooting.
“There are 19 babies who were murdered at Robb Elementary School in Texas who will never have the right to vote. … There are two teachers who were murdered who will never have the opportunity to seek the future that was theirs,” Rep. Al Green, D-Houston, said before Friday’s vote. “We have a governor in the state of Texas who could have saved all of those lives if he had … after the shooting at Walmart [in El Paso] that took 23 lives … legislation such as what we’re passing today.”
The legislation stands virtually no chance of passing the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to end debate. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican who was the GOP leader in bipartisan gun safety talks last month, told reporters there would be no more gun negotiations after Congress passed a modest gun measure earlier this summer.
Congress most recently passed an assault weapons ban in 1994, but it expired 10 years later. The mass shootings have renewed calls from Texas politicians and other Democrats for another ban.
Cuellar and Gonzalez, who are in tight reelection races this year, were the only two Texas Democrats to not co-sponsor the semi-automatic weapons ban.
Republicans blasted Democrats for supporting the legislation.
“What would do more right now than banning AR-15s would be to ban Democrat thinking in the big cities that’s allowing the crime rates to just explode,” Rep. Louie Gohmert of Tyler said on the House floor before Friday’s vote.
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