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House Passes Assault Weapons Ban, Senate Approval Unlikely

The House passed a bill to ban the sale of assault-style weapons largely on party lines, a show of how Democrats have coalesced around banning such weapons in response to mass shootings. The bill passed 217-213, with 215 Democrats and two Republicans voting yes and 208 Republicans and five Democrats voting no. The bill isn’t likely to move forward in the 50-50 Senate for a vote, as it would almost certainly fail to get the 60 votes required to overcome a filibuster, the Wall Street Journal reports. “As we have learned all too well in recent years, assault weapons—especially when combined with high-capacity magazines—are the weapon of choice for mass shootings,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).

Friday’s vote was the first time an assault weapons ban had come to the floor since 2013. It would ban assault-style weapons, which the bill defines as semiautomatic rifles that have a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds. It would also ban semiautomatic rifles that can accept a detachable magazine and have one of the following: a pistol grip; forward grip; folding, telescoping or detachable stock; a grenade launcher; a barrel shroud; or a threaded barrel. Congress in 1994 passed a law banning assault weapons, a measure that expired after 10 years. The measure has since lacked the votes in Congress to pass. The 2013 proposed ban, after the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Ct., that left 20 children and six staff members dead—saw 60 senators vote in opposition, with 15 Democrats joining 44 Republicans.