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House approves gun control bills, including higher age for assault rifles

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WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a package of gun control bills that, among other things, would raise the age requirement for most gun sales from 18 to 21.

Rather than becoming law, the legislation will land on the growing pile of bills passed by the House that the Senate ignores. This stack already includes a recent measure requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales.

But the Senate has been busier than usual following horrific mass murders in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, in which armed teenagers legally purchased assault rifles to slaughter more than 30 people, including 19 children in a primary school.

Since last week, a bipartisan group of senators have been privately negotiating a compromise guns bill that would make modest changes to the criminal background check system, increase funding for mental health services and encourage states to enact “red flag” laws allowing people to take up arms. people who pose an imminent threat.

Senators involved in the negotiations say they have also considered raising the age required to purchase rifles and shotguns from 18 to 21, but it is enough Republicans are unlikely to support the change for it to be included in a final compromise.

Federal law prohibits licensed gun dealers from selling handguns to people under 21, but allows the sale of rifles and shotguns to anyone over 18.

In addition to raising the gun age to 21, the House package would ban high-capacity magazines, require parents to lock up their guns at home, and ban third-party gun purchases.

“There’s no question that kids — and that’s who they are — shouldn’t buy AR-15s until they’re 21,” Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) said during of the floor debate ahead of Wednesday’s vote, referring to the type of weapon used by recent mass shooters.

“It’s been proven that the male brain hasn’t developed to a certain point to be trusted at that time with this type of weapon,” Cohen said. “They are weapons of war.”

The legislation passed mostly along partisan lines, with support from Democrats and a handful of members switching sides on some provisions.

Representative Brian Fitzpatrick, a moderate Republican from Pennsylvania who has long supported a higher age requirement for gun purchases, was one of many Republicans to vote in favor of the provision. He told HuffPost ahead of the vote that high-profile mass shootings are “predominantly committed by males under the age of 21.”

The House omitted an assault weapons ban from Wednesday’s list of laws, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said the House would hold hearings on such a bill soon.

Dr. Roy Guerrero, pediatrician from Uvalde, testified before a House committee earlier Wednesday that the victims he saw after last month’s shooting had been “so pulverized by the bullets fired at them” that they were only recognizable by their clothes.

“Innocent children across the country today are dead because laws and policies allow people to buy guns before they are even of legal age to buy a pack of beer,” Guerrero said.

Although a higher age requirement would have prevented several high-profile mass shooters from buying their guns as they did, Republicans rejected the proposal as an excessive burden on Second Amendment rights.

“You might have put a speed bump in front of this kid,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) told HuffPost. “Does that mean you’re changing the rules for tens of millions more?”

huffpost

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