In response to last month’s mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, which killed more than 30 people and reignited the push for gun legislation on Capitol Hill, the House passed a sweeping gun bill Wednesday.
The bill, called the Protecting Our Children Act, includes a series of individual bills aimed at preventing gun violence. It was approved by a vote of 223-204 but is expected to face GOP opposition in the Senate.
The measure would raise the legal purchasing age for semiautomatic weapons from 18 to 21, prohibit the sale of large-capacity magazines, and impose new rules governing proper at-home gun storage, CNN reports. It would also strengthen regulations around so-called ghost guns or firearms without a serial number.
The bill’s passage comes just over two weeks after a shooter opened fire at Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School, killing 19 students and two adults. Ten days earlier, a gunman fatally shot ten Black people at a Buffalo grocery store in a racially motivated attack.
“America is in the midst of a shocking gun violence epidemic that should shock the conscience of everyone and has devastated children, families and communities. We must address it with the fierce urgency of now,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said during the debate on the House floor on Wednesday.
“It is not OK that mass murder has become a way of life in the United States of America. That is why we must pass comprehensive gun violence prevention legislation, address this epidemic decisively and allow America to be the best version of itself,” he added.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) implored her colleagues to support the measure. “To those who a moment of silence is good enough because you don’t have the courage to take a vote to protect the children, I would say your political survival is totally insignificant to the survival of, or compared to the survival of, our children,” she said.
House Republicans slammed the legislation, claiming that it violated Americans’ rights.
“Here they come — going after law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment liberties,” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan said. “The speaker started by saying this bill is about protecting our kids. That is important. … That’s what she said, ‘protecting our kids is important.’ Yes, it is. But this bill doesn’t do it. What this bill does is take away second amendment rights, God-given rights, protected by our Constitution from law-abiding American citizens. That’s what this legislation does, and that’s why we should oppose it.”
The legislation passed is not expected to become law as the Senate “pursues negotiations focused on improving mental health programs, bolstering school security and enhancing background checks,” according to the Associated Press. However, the House bill gives Democratic lawmakers a chance to tell voters in November where they stand on policies that polls show are widely supported.