A committee of the US House of Representatives is set to vote next week for the first time in nearly 20 years on a bill that would ban assault weapons.
“Our country has witnessed senseless killing after senseless killing and each time one fact has remained remarkably consistent — the weapon of choice for mass slaughter is a high-powered assault weapon,” Jerold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.
The Democrat from New York said the bill, which would ban the sale, import, manufacture or transfer of certain semi-automatic weapons, would be considered by the committee on Wednesday.
If the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2021” passes the Democratic-controlled committee it would go to the full House, where Democrats are in the majority.
It would be likely doomed to fail in the Senate, however.
Democrats have 50 seats in the 100-member Senate and 10 Republican votes would be needed to bring the measure to the floor.
Nadler said it is “beyond frightening and disturbing that a weapon that was designed as a tool of war has found its way into the hands of 18 year olds and onto our streets.”
An 18-year-old in Texas killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24 using a semi-automatic rifle he purchased legally.
“Any weapon that allows for the quick and efficient slaughter of children in our schools has no place in our communities,” Nadler said.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, said there is “great support in our caucus for an assault weapons ban.”
Congress passed a 10-year ban on assault rifles and certain high-capacity magazines in 1994.
But lawmakers let it expire in 2004 without renewing the ban and sales of those weapons have soared since then.
After the Uvalde massacre, President Joe Biden appealed to lawmakers to again ban assault rifles or at least raise the minimum age for buying them from 18 to 21.
But Republican lawmakers, who see such a restriction as going against the constitutional right to bear arms, have refused to go along with Biden’s proposal.
Survivors of recent mass shootings and relatives of people killed in them pleaded with lawmakers at the US Capitol on Wednesday to ban the powerful assault weapons used in the attacks.