The House on Wednesday voted nearly along party lines to bar the sale of semi-automatic weapons to people under the age of 21 and ban the sale of large-capacity magazines, acting as traumatised parents of victims and survivors of mass shootings made wrenching appeals for Congress to act on gun violence.
The vote on a sprawling gun package came two weeks and a day after a gunman massacred 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Several hours earlier, parents of one of the children killed there and an 11-year-old who survived addressed a House committee to drive home the stakes of the issue.
Though the bill passed 223 to 204, it stands no chance in the evenly divided Senate, where solid Republican opposition means it cannot draw the 60 votes needed to break through a filibuster and move forward.
The vote on Wednesday only underscored the intractable politics of gun control in Congress, where all but five Republicans voted against Democrats’ wide-ranging legislation, and talks on a compromise remained unresolved.
Bipartisan negotiations in the Senate continued among a small group of Republicans and Democrats on more modest measures that might actually have a chance of drawing sufficient backing. But one crucial player, Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, warned that there were “sticking points everywhere”.
The fragile talks in the Senate and the divided result in the House were stark reminders of the political obstacles that have thwarted past efforts at gun control on Capitol Hill. They were also a jarring contrast with the raw and urgent entreaties from people traumatised by gun violence that unfolded in a committee room nearby.
“We seek a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines,” Kimberly Rubio, whose 10-year-old daughter, Lexi, was killed in Uvalde last month, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Her voice shaking, Rubio used her own fresh pain to call for action.
“We understand for some reason, to some people — to people with money, to people who fund political campaigns — that guns are more important than children,” she said.
New York Times News Service