The House of Representatives on Friday passed gun control legislation, House Resolution 1808, on a vote of 217-213. The bill will advance to the Senate, where it is predicted to languish.
HR 1808 would ban nearly all semiautomatic firearms and standard capacity magazines, including the AR-15, an example of which is shown above being auctioned off in Nikiski, Alaska. It would also ban the AK-47.
The bill would ban many types of striker-fired handguns, which are among the most commonly owned firearms today. Striker-fired pistols are easy to use: After a shooter manually racks the slide to chamber a round, each subsequent trigger pull fires a single round, then ejects the spent casing, and loads another round into the chamber, rearming the firing pin, so the next round can be shot.
The House measure calls these firearms “assault weapons.” Many hunters in Alaska use AR-15s for caribou. There are more than 24.4 million of these types of firearms are currently in the possession of American citizens, according to the firearm blog, The Reload.
“More than 4.5 million ARs. AKs, and similar rifles were bought by American civilians since the last time their circulation was estimated, according to a new report. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the gun industry’s trade group, found there are now at least 24,446,000 of the guns in civilian hands. It said 2.7 million were produced or imported in 2020 alone–the most for any year on record,” the writer said.
“This is a truly significant figure that demonstrates – again – the popularity of this commonly-owned style of rifle,” Joe Bartozzi, NSSF President, said in a statement to The Reload. “The firearm industry responds to market demand and this shows that during the elevated period of firearm sales that began in 2020, this particular style of rifle is the top choice for law-abiding citizens for hunting, recreational shooting and self-defense.”
This bill makes it a crime to knowingly import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic “assault weapon” or large capacity ammunition feeding devices.
The proposed ban does not apply to a firearm that is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action; permanently inoperable; is an antique; and the bill does not specify a brand or model by name.
The bill exempts from the prohibition the following, with respect to a SAW or LCAFD:
- importation, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession related to certain law enforcement efforts, or authorized tests or experiments;
- importation, sale, transfer, or possession related to securing nuclear materials; and
- possession by a retired law enforcement officer.
After Congress approved similar legislation in 1994, Democrats lost control of the House and Senate. That ban expired in 2004, and polling data this year suggests the public would again be punishing to lawmakers, should the bill pass.
“The sweeping gun control law would also ban many triggers, and inhibit the use of lawfully acquired suppressors, another large part of our industry. For many of us, these arbitrary standards of what makes an ‘assault weapon’ would cover every item that we produce, guaranteeing the failure of our businesses,” said Gun Owners of America in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“A majority of all gun owners, especially the 14 million new gun owners who bought firearms to defend themselves during a period of unrest, would become owners of so-called “semiautomatic assault weapons” and thus be subject to undue and unconstitutional mandates from Congress.
“Time and time again, these commonly owned firearms have been used for self-defense. According to a 2021 National Firearms Survey from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Research, there are an estimated 1.67 million defensive uses of a firearm each year. This means that firearms are at least as likely to be used to save lives than to take lives, if not many times more,” Gun Owners of America said in its letter. “As recognized by the federal government after the expiration of the Assault Weapon Ban of 1994, these laws do nothing to save lives or reduce crime. Instead, you will be limiting our customers’ ability to defend themselves adequately against criminals.”
Another bill working its way through the House is House Resolution 2814, which would repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, and make firearm manufacturers responsible for crimes committed using the firearms they make and sell.
The bill is seen “as ridiculous as suing automotive manufacturers for pedestrian deaths based upon the malevolence of the drivers, rather than the deficiencies of the car’s design,” the Gun Owners of America Letter said.
The National Rifle Association was equally unimpressed: “Barely a month after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen, gun control advocates in Congress are spearheading an assault upon the freedoms and civil liberties of law-abiding Americans. The promises made in HR 1808 are nothing short of a lie based on willful ignorance of the disastrous 1994 Clinton Gun Ban which failed to produce any significant drop in crime. With more than 24 million potentially-banned firearms in common use, these draconian restrictions fall in blatant opposition to the Supreme Court’s rulings in Bruen, Caetano v. Massachusetts, and DC v. Heller. Their refusal to recognize this reality places everyone at risk. Any legitimate attempt to address our nation’s surge in violent crime cannot commence until anti-gun legislators step away from the radicals who defund our police departments, support prosecutors who refuse to prosecute dangerous criminals, and promote no cash bail policies that have turned once proud communities into a playground of lawlessness and fear.”