Saturday, April 20

These are the House lawmakers who bucked their parties on assault weapons ban

The House narrowly passed a bill to ban assault weapons on Friday, with five Democrats and two Republicans bucking their respective parties in their votes on the measure.

The legislation, dubbed the Assault Weapons Ban of 2022, passed in a 217-213 vote. One Republican did not vote.

Five Democrats opposed the bill, despite the fact that an assault weapons ban was a top priority for the party as the year inches closer to the midterm elections.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Jared Golden (D-Maine), Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas), Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) all voted “no.”

On the Republican side, leadership recommended that members of the conference vote no on the bill, according to a GOP congressional aid. That urging, however, did not stop Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Chris Jacobs (RN.Y.) from supporting the legislation.

Cuellar and Golden’s votes against the measure did not come as a surprise.

Golden voted against the rule for the bill on Friday, a signal that he opposed the legislation. He has also objected to a number of firearm-related bills in the past, including a measure to nationalize red flag laws, a bipartisan gun safety bill that passed through the Senate and was signed into law and a firearm package that, among other measures, would have raised the minimum age to buy a semi-automatic weapon from 18 to 21.

Cuellar last month signaled he would not vote for the bill, saying, “I don’t believe in bans on weapons.”

“Do I believe in certain restrictions? And it is. But a ban on guns? No,” I added.

Gonzalez also voted against the rule for the weapons ban on Friday, a signal that he would likely object to the measure when it came to the floor for a final vote.

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In a statement Friday evening, the Texas Democrat said a ban on some assault weapon models “will do nothing to reduce overall risks,” noting the millions of assault rifles already in circulation in the US

“Our focus should be on keeping guns out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves or others,” he said.

The congressman called on the Senate to take up the gun-related legislation the House previously passed, including measures to ban civilian use of high-capacity magazines and bolster background checks.

Schrader was the third Democrat who voted against the rule on Friday, and he voiced reservations about assault weapons bans before then.

I have suggested to Politico last week that the bill was on a “death wish list” for Democrats, pointing to the Republican victory in the 1994 midterm elections, after then-President Clinton signed an assault weapons ban.

“This is a bill that destroyed the Democrats in ’94. I guess, do we really have a death wish list as Democrats?” Schrader said.

The Oregon Democrat also said he was concerned about the assault weapons ban because he felt it would undermine the bipartisan package Congress cleared and Biden signed into law last month.

“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 told the outlet.

It was not clear how Kind would vote on the assault weapons ban prior to it being brought to the floor. The congressman previously voted against two provisions in the sweeping gun package the House passed last month — one that would ban civilians from using high capacity magazines, and one that would bolster safe storage of guns in homes where minors can access the weapons.

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The Hill reached out to the five Democrats for comment on their votes.

In a statement following Friday’s vote, Jacobs said that while he supports the Second Amendment and the right to self-defense, he is not in favor of “easy access to high-powered semiautomatic weapons and large capacity magazines that have time and time again resulted in mass casualty shootings.”

He referenced the mass shooting that took place in Buffalo, NY, in May, in which 10 Black individuals were killed at a grocery store, writing that the weapons banned in the bill “have been proven to cause an immense amount of damage quickly.”

“We have a duty to provide for the safety of all Americans. These weapons do not belong in our communities. While this bill is not perfect, I believe it will save innocent lives,” he said.

Jacobs’s vote does not come as a surprise. The New York Democrat announced in May that he would support an assault weapons ban, sparking outrage within his party. One week later, the congressman said he would not seek a second term in the House.

During the vote on Friday, Jacobs said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) approached him in the speaker’s lobby to point out how close the final tally would be. Asked by The Hill if leadership was trying to convince him to change his vote, Jacobs said “it wasn’t like, heavy, heavy duty, they were just pointing out how close it was.”

Fitzpatrick told The Hill Friday night that he ultimately decided to vote for the assault weapons ban after thinking about a family from Parkland, Fla., that experienced a loss following the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

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If the two Republicans had voted with their party in the final vote, they may have tied the 215-215 vote, preventing Democrats from getting to the 216-vote threshold they needed to pass the bill. One Republican did not vote.

Fitzpatrick told The Hill that McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) did not approach him during the vote.

“They know I do my own thing,” he said. “I’ve developed that reputation.”

Emily Brooks contributed.

Updated at 10:56 pm

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