Vote in Congress to Ban Assault Rifles

The US Congress voted on Friday at first reading to ban assault rifles, semi-automatic weapons at the heart of several killings that have shocked the United States.

Vote in Congress to Ban Assault Rifles

The US Congress voted on Friday at first reading to ban assault rifles, semi-automatic weapons at the heart of several killings that have shocked the United States.

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The text, supported by Democratic President Joe Biden, was adopted by the House of Representatives with 217 votes in favor and 213 against, but seems doomed to failure in the Senate.

Supermajority rules in the upper house of Congress would require ten Republican senators to vote with their 50 Democratic colleagues to ban assault rifles.

This prospect is unlikely as the partisan fractures are great on the subject of weapons: Friday only two Republican representatives joined their voices to those of the Democrats.

However, in 1994, Congress succeeded in passing a law banning assault rifles and certain high-capacity magazines for ten years.

It expired in 2004 and since then sales of these weapons, promoted by manufacturers as "sports rifles", have soared. Over the past ten years, they have brought in more than $1 billion, according to a parliamentary report.

Massacres committed with AR-15 rifles at a Texas school (21 dead), a supermarket frequented by African-Americans (10 dead) and a National Day parade (7 dead) have recently renewed calls for ban them.

After the bloodbath in the Uvalde school, Joe Biden had implored Congress to, at a minimum, raise the legal age to be able to buy it to 21.

On Friday, the White House reiterated its support for a measure that would “save lives”.

“40,000 Americans die each year from gunshot wounds, and firearms have become the number one killer of children in the United States,” she said in a statement.

So far, Republicans are united against this measure, which they perceive as a violation of the second amendment to the Constitution on the right to bear arms.

Pressed to act, they just agreed to support a very modest law that strengthens the means to seize the weapons of violent spouses, and increases the means for mental health and school safety.

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