House Passes Bill Raising Age For Semi-Automatic Gun Ownership To 21

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
Font Size:

The House of Representatives passed a gun control package Tuesday that would raise the purchasing age of certain semi-automatic rifles to 21, but it is likely dead-on-arrival in the Senate.

The Protecting Our Kids Act was introduced by New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler in the aftermath of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting. In addition to raising the age at which Americans can legally purchase certain semi-automatic weapons, it also requires gun owners to store firearms in gun safes or other locations, and expands the regulation of bump stocks. Many Republicans have described the legislation as unconstitutional, noting court rulings prohibiting states from implementing similar regulations.

“All of us in this Chamber were shaken by the images of parents in Uvalde standing in line to match their DNA to the remains of their nine- and ten-year-old children — parents who should be picking their children up from school right now but who, instead, are picking up the pieces of their lives, shattered by this unimaginable loss,” Nadler said in a floor speech.

The age provision passed mostly along party lines, with 218 Democrats and ten Republicans voting in favor and 197 Republicans and two Democrats voting against. Following a request from 21 Democrats, party leadership agreed to hold separate votes on different parts of the package. Those members hoped that splitting the legislation up would help it retain bipartisan support.

“Why are there six bills in here? Because none of them work. You can’t take six bills that don’t work and put them together and make one that does. It doesn’t work that way,” Republican Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie said in a floor speech. (RELATED: Democratic Rep Promises To ‘Abolish’ The Filibuster And ‘Expand’ The Supreme Court If He Doesn’t Get His Way On Gun Control)

The Senate is not expected to take up the legislation. In the upper chamber, Texas Republican John Cornyn has been negotiating with Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy on a package incentivizing states to pass red-flag laws. Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has also been involved in the negotiations, called for certifying veterans to increase the number of armed school security guards.