The House Judiciary Committee announced today it will take up a proposed gun ban for markup on Wednesday, a first step toward sending it to the full House for passage. The bill, called the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2021” (H.R. 1808) is co-sponsored by both New Hampshire U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas.
The story was first reported by Punchbowl News.
“This is a big deal. The [House] Judiciary Committee hasn’t voted on an assault weapons ban in nearly 30 years – since 1994 – when a decade-long federal prohibition was signed into law. That ban ended a decade later,” Punchbowl reports.
The bill would ban the sale of some of the most popular rifles in the U.S., sometimes referred to as “assault weapons,” though the Associated Press has issued guidance to journalists that the phrase is both inaccurate and “highly politicized.”
The bill lists a series of features that would cause a rifle to be covered by the ban. Among them:
- All semi-automatic rifles that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one of the following military features: (1) pistol grip; (2) forward grip; (3) folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; (4) grenade launcher; (5) barrel shroud; or (6) threaded barrel.
- All semi-automatic rifles that have a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
- All semi-automatic shotguns that have at least one of the following (1) a folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; (2) pistol grip; (3) a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 5 rounds; (4) ability to accept a detachable magazine; (5) forward grip; (6) grenade launcher; or (7) shotgun with a revolving cylinder.
Stephen Gutowski, one of the nation’s leading journalists on guns and politics, says H.R. 19808 is “basically the 1994 ban, but they’re using a “one-feature” standard for banning guns instead of two.”
“AR-15 style firearms have become the weapon of choice for shooters looking to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible and have been used in the deadliest mass shootings in our history, from Sandy Hook to Parkland to Uvalde,” said the bill’s lead sponsor Rep. David Cicilline’s (D-R.I.). “How many more kids need to die in their schools before we finally crack down on these dangerous firearms which were designed for war?”
President Joe Biden is backing the effort. On Monday he said he supports the effort, adding he “won’t stop” until those types of rifles have been banned. “I’m determined to ban these weapons again and high capacity magazines that hold 30 rounds that let mass shooters fire hundreds of bullets in a matter of minutes.”
The data on whether the previous “assault weapons” ban had any measurable effect on gun crime is unclear at best. What is clear is that banning the sale of popular rifles like AR-15s would have a disproportionate impact on New Hampshire’s economy. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Granite State ranks first in the nation in terms of total gun manufacturing jobs and economic output per capita.
In 2019, New Hampshire accounted for the manufacture of the most firearm production of any state, with 1.2 million guns. New Hampshire manufactured the most rifles (328,000), many of which would be banned by the proposed legislation.
The gun issue has rarely worked well for Democrats in tough elections. Analysis by poll experts like The New York Times’ Nate Cohn finds that while Americans say they want more aggressive gun control measures, their actions at the voting booth don’t back that up.
“Democrats may be hoping to further motivate their base to turn out with a symbolic attempt to pass an ‘assault weapons’ ban ahead of the midterms,” said Gutowski. “However, the vote is likely to put representatives from swing districts in a very tough spot whichever way they come down. The most recent polling shows Americans split on the idea of a new ban, with support trending to new lows.”