House Raises Minimum Age to Purchase ‘Assault’ Rifle

The House passed sweeping gun control measures Wednesday along a mostly party line vote. Whether you call it a symbolic gesture or grandstanding, the bill is all but certain to fade away in the Senate.

The package raises the legal age for buying a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21 and creates new federal statutes for gun trafficking. It outright bans large-capacity magazines and clears the way for local governments to institute a buyback program to collect those in circulation.

The legislation, called the “Protecting Our Kids Act,” is unlikely to gain traction in the Senate where it needs 60 affirmative votes to overcome a filibuster. The House vote was 223-204 with a few representatives crossing the aisle on the measure.

Five Republicans voted in favor of the package: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Chris Jacobs of New York, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, and Fred Upton of Michigan. Notably, all five of the GOP members who voted “yes” are not returning to Congress next term.

And that was before this vote.

A pair of Democrats, Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon, cast “no” votes. Shrader is also not returning to the House.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the chamber that the body is “on a crusade for the children.” She cited numbers that show the nation “has lost more children from gun violence than any other cause” and questioned whether it “embarrassed” legislators.

House Republicans labeled the omnibus legislation as “reactionary” and a violation of 2nd Amendment rights. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) acknowledged “protecting children is important” but asserted that the bill does not accomplish that.

He told the House that the bill takes away rights from “law abiding American citizens.”

Though this legislation will almost certainly fail in the Senate, a bipartisan group there is working on a much more focused proposal to increase mental health funding, expand background checks, and support state efforts in passing red-flag laws.

President Joe Biden is pressuring legislators to send a package — any package — to the White House in the wake of recent mass shootings.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that the body is looking at an outcome that will “make a difference” and is actually related to the recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde. That statement likely makes too much sense to attract much Democratic support.