WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States House of Representatives passed a “red flag” gun control bill on Thursday that would empower federal courts to temporarily take a handgun away from someone who is deemed a threat to himself or others.
The House passed Georgia Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath’s bill, dubbed the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, by a vote of 224-202, almost entirely along party lines. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, and Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio were among the five Republicans who voted with Democrats.
Maine Democrat Jared Golden was the only Democrat who voted against the bill.
“Today, we vote to give law enforcement and families the tools they need to avoid these horrific shootings,” McBath added. The District of Columbia and 19 states currently have red flag legislation in place to prevent gun violence.
The bill is unlikely to advance in the Senate, which is evenly divided, where a bipartisan group continued to debate compromise gun control measures on Thursday. But for McBath, who became a gun safety advocate after her 17-year-old son, Jordan Davis, was murdered at a Florida gas station in 2012, the bill’s approval signified a years-long ambition.
Jordan was fatally shot by a white guy who was enraged by the Black teenager’s and his companions’ loud music.
“That’s why, a decade after my son was snatched from me by a man with a gun merely for playing loud music in his car,” McBath said on the House floor, “I made a commitment to Jordan, to my neighbourhood, and to the American people.” “A pledge that I will fight this struggle to the end of my days.”
After Georgia Republicans redrew the state’s congressional district map, turning McBath’s seat into a Republican stronghold, McBath won a primary race against Democratic colleague Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in a new congressional district.
Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control organisation, spent $1 million on TV advertising endorsing McBath in the weeks preceding up to the primary.
McBath has stated that she has channelled the anguish of her son’s murder into action throughout her time in Congress. In a statement, McBath said, “We voted to preserve the lives of our children, to protect our families, and to do what is right.”
On June 3, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas, flowers, plush toys, and wooden crosses are laid at a monument dedicated to the victims of the horrific shooting at Robb Elementary School.
On May 24, an 18-year-old gunman opened fire inside the school, killing 19 students and two teachers. Throughout the week, there will be wakes and burials for the 21 fatalities.
The horrific mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, in recent weeks, have prompted the White House and Democrats to renew their push for gun control legislation, even though few expect anything to get done in a fragmented Congress.
On May 14, a white supremacist who had written about his belief in the racial conspiracy theory known as “the great replacement” went to a grocery shop in a mostly Black Buffalo neighbourhood and murdered ten Black individuals.
On May 24, a gunman opened fire at Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School, killing 19 students and two instructors.
In response, the House passed a package of eight gun-control bills on Wednesday that would, among other things, raise the age of purchase of semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21, create new requirements for storing guns in a home with children, prevent gun trafficking, require all firearms to be traceable, and close the loophole on bump stocks, which increase the rate of fire of semiautomatic weapons.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee also heard from gun violence victims, including survivors of the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde.
Republican opponents of McBath’s bill contended that red flag regulations were illegal during the floor debate on Thursday. According to the bill’s description, McBath’s measure would authorise and establish processes for federal courts to issue federal high-risk protection orders. Federal high risk protection would make it illegal to buy, own, or receive a firearm or ammunition.
A family member or household member, as well as a law enforcement officer, could petition the federal government for an extraordinary risk protection order for someone who is a danger to themselves or others.
Reps. Debbie Lesko of Arizona and Lisa McClain of Michigan, both Republicans, have accused Democrats of robbing them of their firearms.
“(Democrats) want to take away my ability to defend my grandchildren,” stated Lesko.
The bill, according to Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, would allow the government to take away a person’s gun “even if they haven’t committed any crime.”
Rep. Brenda Lawrence, a Democrat from Michigan, said her party would not “take away your right to own a gun, but use common judgement.”
She stated, “The American people are asking us to safeguard their communities.”
Rep. Madeline Dean, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, believes Congress has a responsibility to intervene when someone is putting themselves or others in danger.
“We don’t have to live this way,” she stated emphatically.
The bill “provides a logical approach, so that someone demonstrating dangerous behaviour can be prevented from holding or acquiring firearms before a tragedy occurs,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat and chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
“Every court that has studied (red flag laws) has ruled them constitutional,” he continued.
Red flag regulations, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, also assist prevent suicide deaths.
“Not only will this protect us from catastrophic shootings, but it will also protect us from the quiet daily massacres caused by suicide and gun crimes,” Pelosi stated.
The Senate Chamber of the United States Capitol. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images/Win McNamee).
Senate talks are still going on.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday morning that Democrats’ main negotiator, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, “said the group is making good progress, and they hope to have something serious done very soon” in gun control talks in the Senate.
“As soon as the bipartisan group agrees,” Schumer added, “I want to bring a measure to the floor for a vote as soon as feasible.”
“Our caucus, gun safety activists, and the American people all agree that getting something serious done about gun violence is worth pursuing, even if we can’t accomplish all we know we need,” Schumer concluded.
“The work of preventing mass shootings in our country will continue long after this debate is over,” Schumer said. “But right now, we have a moral obligation to make real progress because taking concrete steps to reduce gun violence is critically important.”
Republicans’ main negotiator, Texas Senator John Cornyn, said Thursday that striking an agreement by the end of the week was “aspirational,” but that bipartisan talks will continue into the weekend.
“What’s fantastic about everyone having text messaging is that there’s a lot of communication,” Cornyn explained.
The former Senate Republican whip, who stepped down after serving his time limit, said he’s already planning how to persuade a big number of his Republican colleagues to support a prospective bipartisan package.
Only 10 Republicans would be needed to pass a bill addressing guns, mental health, and school safety if all 50 Democrats support it. Cornyn, on the other hand, has stated that he would like to see a stronger display of bipartisan support for any potential arrangement.
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“Right now, I feel that there appears to be a critical mass of support for doing something, which is big because around here, sometimes individuals don’t have the drive to achieve a result, but they want the issue for political reasons or something like that,” Cornyn added.