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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass gun control legislation in a speech at the White House Thursday night, following mass shootings in New York, Texas and Oklahoma over the past last three weeks.

“It’s not about taking away anyone’s rights. This is about protecting children,” Biden said. “How much more carnage are we willing to accept? »

The plea came after a white supremacist killed 10 black people at a supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York on May 14.

Ten days later, an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas was attacked by an 18-year-old man armed with a gun and 19 children and two teachers were killed. Another mass shooting at a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Wednesday night left four people dead.

Biden said Congress should ban assault weapons, like those used in recent mass shootings. And if Congress can’t agree to ban them, Biden said the age to buy an assault weapon should be raised from 18 to 21.

He also expressed support for laws that would allow guns to be safely stored in homes where children live and an end to liability protections that prevent civil suits against gun manufacturers.

“The gun industry’s special protections are outrageous,” Biden said. “It must end.”

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, gun-related injuries are now the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the United States.

“Protecting Our Children Act”

At the same time Biden was speaking at the White House, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee passed a gun control package in a party-line vote, 25-19, at the following an all-day heated markup called urgently by Democrats after the recent surge. armed violence. The House and the Senate are on vacation.

The legislation, HR 7910, known as the Protecting Our Kids Act, is made up of eight gun control-related bills, all first introduced in 2021 by Democratic lawmakers. It should be on the house floor next week.

While the legislation is expected to pass through a Democratic-controlled House, it is unlikely to make progress in the equally divided Senate, where a small bipartisan group of senators are discussing more limited measures.

House gun control package would raise purchase age for semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, create new requirements for gun storage in home with children, prevent trafficking weapons, require all firearms to be traceable, and close the loophole on bump stocks, devices that increase the rate of fire of semi-automatic weapons, among other things.

Republicans on the committee have raised repeated objections to the bill, blaming mental health issues and a lack of “family values” as reasons for recent mass shootings. They criticized Democrats for rushing to pass legislation.

“It’s not an urgent action,” replied Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. “It’s been delayed for decades.”

He said that all the provisions of the bill should have the force of law today. Cohen added that assault weapons, which are typically used in mass shootings, were banned from 1994 until the law expired in 2004.

Republicans submitted 10 amendments to the bill. Only one was accepted, by Republican Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky.

The amendment would require the Attorney General to submit a report to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees and collect “the demographics of individuals who have been deemed ineligible to purchase a firearm based on a background check conducted by the National Instant Criminal Background Check”. System, including race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender, age, disability, average annual income, and English proficiency, if available.

Wisconsin shooting

Even as House members squabbled over gun control, more gun violence erupted in Wisconsin, where five people were shot while attending a funeral.

“As we sit here, there are multiple gunshots near Racine, Wisconsin,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Texas. “It’s obscene, one mass shooting after another.”

Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, said the mass shootings didn’t start with Buffalo. He argued that Congress has had to do something about gun control since the Columbine shootings in Colorado in 1999.

But Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, called the markup “shitty procedure,” saying Republicans didn’t have enough time to prepare. He said the Democrats’ goal was to “disarm the American people.”

Georgia Democratic Representatives Lucy McBath and Hank Johnson countered that Americans want common sense gun control laws.

US Representative Matt Gaetz of FL speaking at the 2020 Republican National Convention. Credit: GOP Convention Facebook

McBath, who became a gun safety advocate after her son Jordan was fatally shot, discussed so-called red flag laws with Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz. Red flag laws allow courts or law enforcement to temporarily remove a firearm from an individual who is deemed to pose a threat to themselves or others.

Gaetz submitted an amendment to insert a line in the bill that states “Congress opposes the enactment of laws authorizing a court to issue extreme risk protection orders, also known as Red Flag laws.” , in the United States, because these laws trample the life of an individual. due process and second amendment rights.

But McBath said there is support for red flag laws, including from law enforcement, as they are tools to temporarily remove guns from people in distress.

“Don’t dare try to brag that red flag laws don’t matter,” McBath said, saying that without the laws, many people have their hands tied when they want to take a gun away from a loved one. .

Representative Cliff Bentz, a Republican from Oregon, said the bills before the committee would not immediately end school shootings.

“Each of those won’t help now,” he said. “These things will be challenged (in court) and nothing will happen for these children.”

He criticized Democrats for not reaching out to Republicans to work on bipartisan legislation.

Florida Republican shows off guns

Representative Greg Steube, a Republican from Florida, who virtually participated in the markup, held up several of his weapons and argued that they would be banned under the laws proposed in the legislative package.

“I hope the gun is not loaded,” Jackson Lee said.

U.S. Representative Greg Steube of FL. Official portrait, 116th Congress.

“I’m home, I can do whatever I want with my guns,” Steube said.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, DN.Y., asked Steube if he would answer questions, which he declined.

Republican Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana blamed secularization for the mass shootings, and Republican Rep. Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin said gun violence “comes down to family values.”

Tiffany accused Democrats of trying to repeal the Second Amendment and was unwilling to engage with fellow Democrats who tried to debate him.

Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Penn., said she was horrified by Republican rhetoric on the committee and said they were more concerned about gun protection than victims of gun violence .

“Where is the outrage at the massacre of 19 children and two teachers?” she says.

Dean said the Second Amendment has been idolized by Republicans.

“Do you think the Founding Fathers envisioned AR-style weapons?” she says.

school safety

GOP lawmakers like Gaetz and California’s Tom McClintock argued that gun-free zones were actually unsafe and that guns should be allowed on school grounds, so armed law enforcement can protect students.

“Maybe outrage isn’t the best way to write a bill,” Gaetz said.

Rep. Steve Chabot, a Republican from Ohio, said what lawmakers could do immediately is work to make schools safer, such as using funds to hire more resource officers and install metal detectors in schools.

“That’s an area where we could work for common ground,” he said.

Separately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will pass a bill to ban assault rifles next week when lawmakers return from recess.

While it will likely pass the House, it has no chance of going through an evenly divided Senate, where the legislation would require 10 Republicans to join all Democrats to advance.

Pelosi said the House will also vote on McBath’s legislation on red flag laws, the “federal Extreme Hazard Protection Order Act,” or HR 2377.

“As we move down this path, it is our responsibility to keep gun violence front and center in the media so that, strengthened by public opinion, we can achieve vital legislation at the finish line,” he said. Pelosi said in a statement.

“To anyone in Congress who would oppose saving lives: your political survival is insignificant compared to the survival of our children. We won’t rest until the job is done.

Pelosi said the House will also vote on Rep. David Cicilline’s Active Shooter Alert Act, or HR 6538, which creates a notification alert system during a mass shooting. The Rhode Island Democrat’s bill has 14 Republican co-sponsors.

Assault type weapons

None of the bills being debated in the House judicial markup would ban assault-style weapons, which have been used in shootings in New York, Texas and Oklahoma. Pelosi said a hearing on an assault weapons ban will take place, but did not set a date.

Jackson Lee said Democrats “are not done” and there needs to be an assault weapons ban.

But the committee’s top Republican, Jim Jordan of Ohio, said the emergency hike seemed “more political theater” and “is not a real attempt, in my opinion, to find solutions.”

Jordan said the gun control package is a sweeping attempt to establish federal control over “law-abiding citizens.”

Republican Representatives Andy Biggs of Arizona and Dan Bishop of North Carolina echoed similar sentiments.

“Blaming the gun for what’s happening in America is a small wit,” said Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican from Colorado.