Gun Control Bill Passed in US House but Little Hope of It Being Signed Into Law
The bill, however, is unlikely to see the light of day as Republicans would overwhelmingly oppose it in the Senate.
The United States (US) House of Representatives passed a bill on gun control on Wednesday, 8 June. This comes close on the heels of mass shootings in the last few weeks, in Uvalde and Buffalo, which shook the nation and reignited the debate on the vital issue.
The bill would raise the minimum age for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle, and put a ban on the sale of ammunition magazines having a capacity of more than 15 rounds.
It was passed mostly along party lines, with 223 voting for and 204 against.
The bill, however, is unlikely to see the light of day as Republicans would overwhelmingly oppose it in the Senate, where Democrats and Republicans are almost neck-and-neck. The support of 10 Republicans will be needed in the Senate to pass the legislation.
'Sickening To Let Kids Live This Way': House Speaker Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that it was "sickening" to let children live like this," adding that the House would "make history by making progress."
This comes after chilling testimonies by survivors of recent shootings, including an 11-year-old girl named Miah Cerrillo, who said she covered herself with the blood of her dead classmate to avoid being shot at during the rampage at the Robb Elementary School in Texas's Uvalde.
The Uvalde Massacre
Nineteen students, aged 8-11, and two teachers, died in the deadly shooting on 24 May that evoked widespread horror in the US. The shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was shot and killed by responding officers on the same day.
This case of gun violence at a school came shortly after a grocery store shooting that took place on 14 May when 10 elderly Black people in Buffalo, New York, were killed in what was described as a "racist attack."
"We can’t save every life, but my God, shouldn’t we try? America we hear you and today in the House we are taking the action you are demanding,” said Democratic Rep Veronica Escobar while endorsing the bill.
Republicans Slam Bill as Violation of Second Amendment
The Republicans, on the other hand, said that the bill marked the desecration of the Second Amendment, which states that "a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
Republicans also highlighted a ruling given by a US court that stated that the ban on the sale of semi-automatic weapons to people under the age of 21 was "unconstitutional."
"This is unconstitutional and it’s immoral. Why is it immoral? Because we’re telling 18, 19 and 20-year-olds to register for the draft. You can go die for your country. We expect you to defend us, but we’re not going to give you the tools to defend yourself and your family,” said Republican Rep Thomas Massie.
The bill on gun control also includes several incentives to increase the use of secure devices to store guns, and the creation of penalties for violating these requirements.
If a gun is not stored properly, and is used by a minor to injure or kill themselves or others, the owner of the gun could be imprisoned for a maximum period of five years.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also hailed the passing of the bill. "Thank you to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House for passing bipartisan legislation to strengthen gun laws & protect children. Soon, the House will do more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people," she said in a tweet.
The House is also likely to approve a bill on Thursday that would enable families and the police to request courts to order the removal of guns from the hands of those people who are considered to be an extreme risk to themselves or to others.
There have been 213 mass shootings in the US this year alone, of which 27 occurred in schools.
As per a report by Small Arms Survey, the US comprises less than 5 percent of the world's population, but has more than 46 percent of civilian-owned guns globally.
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