Victims of the recent mass shootings in Texas and New York demanded Wednesday that Congress take action to prevent further bloodshed, but the best House Democrats could do was pass a package of gun-control bills that have no chance of becoming law.
In a 223-204 vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi secured passage of a spate of gun-control bills, labeled the Protecting Our Kids Act.
“These measures will not only help stem the tide of mass murder, but help address the equality urging and wide range of daily gun deaths,” said Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat.
Overall five House Republicans voted with Mrs. Pelosi to pass the legislation. They include GOP Reps. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Fred Upton of Michigan and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.
The fifth GOP vote came from Rep. Chris Jacobs of New York, who recently was forced to drop his bid for reelection after coming out in favor of banning military-style assault weapons. Two Democrats, Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon, voted against the package.
The legislation raises the minimum age required to purchase a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21. It also would restrict ammunition magazine capacity to no more than 10 bullets and require existing bump stocks to be registered while banning the sale of bump stocks for civilian use.
“Today’s package [of bills] is just one step in the House’s relentless fight to stop the bloodshed,” Mrs. Pelosi said.
Although support for the overall package generally fell along party lines, several provisions garnered wider bipartisan support. Ten House Republicans, for instance, voted to retain a provision within the package raising the minimum age to buy a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21.
The legislation now heads to the 50-50 Senate where it is dead on arrival. In that chamber, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is negotiating a much less ambitious package they hope can overcome the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold.
Senate negotiators are eyeing more money for school security, incentives for states to adopt “red flag” laws, and expanding the background check system to include youth felony records.
“We’re in the process of bringing everybody together around a common set of reforms,” said Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the lead Democratic negotiator. “I remain confident we can get an agreement.”
Shooting victims, however, say now is the time to end gun violence?
Miah Cerrillo, an 11-year-old survivor of last month’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee on ednesday that she lives in fear of another violent tragedy.
Miah, a fourth-grader at Robb Elementary School, told lawmakers that she only survived the rampage by smearing herself with a classmate’s blood and pretending to be dead.
The gunman “told my teacher ‘good night’ and shot her in the head,” she said. “Then he shot some of my classmates … he shot my friend Elizabeth and I thought he would come back to the room, so I grabbed the blood and I put it all over me and stayed quiet.”
Congress also heard from parents of the 19 children killed in the Uvalde shooting.
“Somewhere out there a mom is listening to our testimony [and] thinking, ‘I can’t even imagine their pain,’ not knowing that our reality will one day be hers unless we act now,” said Kimberly Rubio, whose daughter perished in the massacre.