WASHINGTON – The House Friday passed a bill that would ban assault weapons after a summer of deadly mass shootings that reignited calls for increased gun control.
Although the measure passed mostly along party lines, two Republicans and five Democrats broke with their parties in the vote, according to the official count.
Assault weapons have been used in numerous mass shootings, including murders this year in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo; Parkland, Florida in 2018; Las Vegas in 2017; and Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.
There is no vote scheduled in the Senate yet on banning assault weapons, although the measure is no plans to pass the room. At least 10 Republican senators are expected to join the 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster.
Here’s what we know about why all seven House members broke ranks in the vote.
Prohibition of assault weapons:‘Americans deserve to be safe’: House passes assault weapons ban that has little chance in the Senate
Republicans vote in favor of the bill
Republican Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Chris Jacobs of New York voted in favor of the ban alongside 215 of their fellow Democrats.
Jacobs, whose Western District of New York includes suburban Buffalo, announced in June that he would not seek re-election as he faced backlash for his support for gun control measures.
He said in a prepared statement that while he “strongly” supports the Second Amendment, he does not support “easy access to high-powered semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines that have time and time again resulted in mass shootings”. Uvalde’s shooting prompted him to support an assault weapons ban, he said.
“We have a duty to keep all Americans safe,” Jacobs said. “These weapons do not belong to our communities. Although this bill is not perfect, I believe it will save innocent lives.”
USA TODAY has also requested comment from Fitzpatrick’s office.
Democrats vote against the bill
The five Democrats to vote “no” on the bill alongside 208 Republicans were Representatives Henry Cuellar of Texas, Jared Golden of Maine, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, Ron Kind of Wisconsin and Kurt Schrader of Oregon.
James Rivera, spokesperson for Gonzalez, told USA TODAY that while Gonzalez supports other gun control measures, banning assault rifles does not solve the problem.
“There are tens of millions of assault rifles already in circulation across America, many of them used by responsible gun owners to hunt in South Texas,” Rivera said. “And a ban on some of these models will do nothing to reduce the overall risks. Our goal should be to keep guns out of reach of people who pose a danger to themselves or others.”
Kind said in a prepared statement that while he also supports some gun control measures, the bill was “rushed” through the House, leaving him no opportunity to consider it or consult with Wisconsin law enforcement groups and its constituents. He also expressed concern about the current definition of assault weapons in the legislation, fearing that too broad a definition could lead to a “crackdown” on other firearms.
USA TODAY has requested comment from the offices of the other three members of Congress.
Contributor: Katherine Swartz, Associated Press