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Allen, Graham criticize House-passed gun restrictions

Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 10:36 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON - Congressional members from the two-state region reacted Wednesday after the House passed a wide-ranging gun control bill in response to recent mass shootings.

The bill would raise the age limit for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle and prohibit the sale of ammunition magazines with a capacity of more than 15 rounds.

The legislation passed by a mostly party-line vote of 223-204. It has almost no chance of becoming law as the Senate pursues negotiations focused on improving mental health programs, bolstering school security and enhancing background checks. But the House bill does allow Democratic lawmakers a chance to frame for voters in November where they stand on policies that polls show are widely supported.

Rep. Rick Allen, R-Augusta, said: “Instead of working in a bipartisan manner, House Democrats and Speaker Pelosi moved forward a radical gun control package with no input from Republicans, one that does not address school safety nor mental health. I reject the notion that the only way to stop criminals is by making it harder for law-abiding citizens to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights.”

Republican South Carolina Sen Lindsey Graham also issued a statement.

“The House-passed gun control bill is an extreme constitutional overreach,” he said. “It represents the wish list of the Left when it comes to gun control. I will vigorously oppose this measure. It will go nowhere in the Senate.”

The push comes after a House committee heard wrenching testimony from recent shooting victims and family members, including from 11-year-old girl Miah Cerrillo, who covered herself with a dead classmate’s blood to avoid being shot at the Uvalde elementary school.

The cycle of mass shootings in the United States has rarely stirred Congress to act. But the shooting of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde has revived efforts in a way that has lawmakers from both parties talking about the need to respond.

“It’s sickening, it’s sickening that our children are forced to live in this constant fear,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Pelosi said the House vote would “make history by making progress.” But it’s unclear where the House measure will go after Wednesday’s vote, given that Republicans were adamant in their opposition.

“The answer is not to destroy the Second Amendment, but that is exactly where the Democrats want to go,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

The work to find common ground is mostly taking place in the Senate, where support from 10 Republicans will be needed to get a bill signed into law. Nearly a dozen Democratic and Republican senators met privately for an hour Wednesday in hopes of reaching a framework for compromise legislation by week’s end. Participants said more conversations were needed about a plan that is expected to propose modest steps.

In a measure of the political peril that efforts to curb guns pose for Republicans, five of the six lead Senate GOP negotiators do not face re-election until 2026. They are Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, John Cornyn of Texas, Graham of South Carolina and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. The sixth, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, is retiring in January. It’s also notable that none of the six is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

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