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House passes sweeping ‘assault weapons ban’ bill in last-minute vote

Nancy Pelosi a Trump Tax Town Hall hosted by Tax March at Events on Jackson in Phoenix, Arizona, Feb. 20, 2018. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
July 29, 2022

The House of Representatives voted to pass a sweeping “assault weapons” ban bill in a last-minute vote on Friday before the chamber left for its August recess. The bill is unlikely to pass the Senate.

In a narrow 217-213 vote, the House passed the Assault Weapons Ban of 2021 (HR1808) which aims to “regulate assault weapons” by banning the sale, manufacture, or transfer of a wide range of rifles commonly used by Americans, including the following:

  • All semi-automatic rifles that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one of the following military features: (1) pistol grip; (2) forward grip; (3) folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; (4) grenade launcher; (5) barrel shroud; or (6) threaded barrel.
  • All semi-automatic rifles that have a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
  • Bump fire stocks and any part, combination of parts, component, device, attachment, or accessory that is designed or functions to accelerate the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle but not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machinegun.
  • All semiautomatic pistols that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one of the following military features: (1) threaded barrel; (2) second pistol grip; (3) barrel shroud; (4) capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol grip; or (5) semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm
  • All semi-automatic shotguns that have at least one of the following (1) a folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; (2) pistol grip; (3) fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 5 rounds; (4) ability to accept a detachable magazine; (5) forward grip; (6) grenade launcher; or (7) shotgun with a revolving cylinder.
  • High capacity feeding devices (magazines, strips, and drums) capable of accepting more than 10 rounds.

The bill does not apply to any of the covered weapons that were lawfully possessed on or before the bill is enacted. The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, which expired in 2004, also “grandfathered” covered weapons that were lawfully owned before the ban went into effect.

The bill was slated to be delayed until after Congress’s month-long recess, but was pushed ahead by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the last-minute vote.

The bill isn’t expected to pass the Senate, where it would need the support of 10 Republicans to pass.

President Joe Biden applauded the decision in a statement on Friday evening.

When I signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – the first significant piece of gun safety legislation in nearly 30 years – I said that there was still work to be done to keep our communities safe and keep dangerous firearms out of dangerous hands. When guns are the number one killer of children in America, when more children die from guns than active-duty police and active-duty military combined, we have to act. Today, House Democrats acted by unifying to pass an assault weapons ban to keep weapons of war off our streets, save lives in this country, and reduce crime in our communities.

The majority of the American people agree with this common sense action. The should Senate move quickly to get this bill to my desk, and I will not stop fighting until it does. There can be no greater responsibility than to do all we can to ensure the safety of our families, our children, our homes, our communities, and our nation.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, admitted on Wednesday that the goal of the Democrat-led “assault weapons” ban is to outlaw weapons that are in “common use,” a move that would violate the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia vs. Heller.

The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on District of Columbia v. Heller established a “common use” test in which firearms are protected under the Second Amendment if they are commonly used for lawful self-defense. Thus, a bill such as HR1808 targeting commonly used firearms is not likely to be found constitutional.