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House Democrats Pursuing New Ban on Assault Weapons

House Democrats want to push through an assault weapons ban, setting a mark far beyond last month’s modest bipartisan gun deal. They don’t have the votes yet. Democrats are still shy of the 216 supporters required to steer the bill through the chamber, as a small number in their own caucus remain skeptical about both the legislation and diving further into gun safety just four months before an election. As pressure builds after a spate of recent shootings, party leaders insist they will get there — perhaps with some help from retiring Republicans, Politico reports. If House Democrats can land the votes, it would be the party’s most significant move on guns since 1994 — no easy feat for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team so close to November and with their smallest majority in decades. Weeks ago, some Democrats doubted the assault weapons ban could get a vote. At least one still argues it’s the wrong move for the moment.

“This is a bill that destroyed the Democrats in ‘94. I guess, do we really have a death wish list as Democrats?” said Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), who will not be on the ballot in November after losing his primary. The Oregonian centrist is one of more than a half-dozen Democrats either opposed to or undecided on the legislation, many from rural districts where gun safety laws are more contentious. Part of Schrader’s argument: Democrats risk stomping on their latest bipartisan gun bill by passing something that goes further but will not become law: “It undermines what we already did and reemphasizes to all the people in America that are not hardcore urban Democrats that our party’s out of touch.” Party leaders are still looking to bring a bill led by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) to the floor as soon as next week — their likely last votes before the House leaves for its lengthy summer recess. That fresh push comes after a July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park, Il., and other mass shootings over the past two months injected new energy into Democrats’ gun battle.


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