The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed some of the toughest gun control measures Congress has approved in years, banning the sale of semiautomatic weapons to those under the age of 21 and banning the sale of large-capacity magazines.
The Protecting Our Kids Act passed on a mostly party-line vote — 223-204 — with five Republicans in favor and two Democrats against. The bill now heads to the Senate, where — with a 60-vote threshold to pass — it faces an uncertain future.
Utah Rep. John Curtis, a Republican, criticized the process of the legislation, saying in a statement Tuesday he would “happily consider thoughtful legislation that keeps guns out of the hands of those we can all agree shouldn’t have them. That is clearly not what is happening in the House this week.”
Will the gun control bill pass in the Senate?
According to most experts and analysts, the Protecting Our Kids Act is unlikely to go anywhere in the evenly divided Senate, as most Republican senators remain opposed to stricter gun control.
The bill “stands no chance” in the Senate, writes The New York Times. The Washington Post said the measure “will amount to little more than a political messaging exercise” in the face of GOP opposition.
According to The Guardian, the vote gives Democrats a chance to show voters where they stand on policies to prevent gun violence ahead of the November midterms.
The House voted on the bill after hours of testimony from victims and family members of the recent elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two adults. That included hearing from 11-year-old Miah Cerrillo, who covered herself with a dead classmate’s blood to keep herself from being shot.
“It’s sickening, it’s sickening that our children are forced to live in this constant fear,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
“We can’t save every life, but my God, shouldn’t we try?” said Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas. “America we hear you and today in the House we are taking the action you are demanding. Take note of who is with you and who is not.”
Republicans argued that the bill goes against the Second Amendment, including Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.
“The answer is not to destroy the Second Amendment, but that is exactly where the Democrats want to go,” he said.
A bipartisan group of senators is in talks to try to find common ground on gun policy, according to CNN, but it’s unclear what that would look like.
Where do Utah’s lawmakers stand on gun reform?
All four of Utah’s representatives voted against the House bill, but Curtis signaled he is open to a discussion on how best to reduce gun violence.
“It’s clear to me that we won’t end these mass shootings with partisan proposals put together in the middle of the night, particularly when there are many Republicans, including myself, who want to solve these issues,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
Curtis appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press NOW” on Thursday and expressed willingness to find a solution, but wouldn’t commit to a particular policy without further research. He said most proposals for red flag laws violate individual rights to due process, but said he’d be willing to look at ways to make sure dangerous people don’t have firearms without infringing on rights.
Although Congress voted to allow federal funds be used to study gun violence in 2018 — as long as the research doesn’t advocate for gun restrictions, per The Washington Post — Curtis said the federal government hasn’t spent enough money to provide significant data to work off of.
“I think that’s a conversation we should be having,” he said.
On Thursday, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told CNN’s Ana Cabrera that he supports raising the age to purchase an assault rifle from 18 to 21.
“You have to be 21 to buy a handgun so saying you also have to be 21 to buy an assault rifle seems to make sense,” he told CNN.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said Rep. John Curtis appeared on “Meet the Press.” His comments came from an appearance on “Meet the Press NOW,” NBC News’ daily streaming show.