Republican Congressman Says He Would Vote for an Assault Weapons Ban
Republican Congressman Says He Would Vote for an Assault Weapons Ban

By Zachary Stieber

A Republican U.S. congressman on May 27 said he would vote for a ban of so-called assault weapons.

“I want to be completely transparent of where I am in Congress,” said Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-N.Y.). “If an assault weapons ban bill came to the floor that would ban something like an AR-15, I would vote for it.”

Democrats for years have tried getting such a ban reimposed.

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act included a ban on some semi-automatic guns, which it defined as assault weapons. But the ban expired in 2004 after 10 years.

Rep. Chris Jacobs (R) speaks in Washington on July 21, 2020. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Following several recent mass shootings, a number of Democrats renewed calls to pass a similar ban.

“We need to pass common sense policies like an assault weapons ban to stop these attacks,” Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) said in a statement.

“There is a lot Congress can do to prevent mass shootings: assault weapon bans, better background checks, high-capacity magazine bans,” added Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

Republicans have largely said that they oppose such a broad move, though some are considering making compromises with Democrats to pass gun-related legislation.

“Part of I think what some of us are still looking at is: is there a way to identify these individuals that have this propensity to carry out the shootings?” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) told reporters this week.

Jacobs said that he is supportive of a range of ideas, including proposals that would limit the size of magazines that people can obtain and increase the age one must be to buy AR-15-style guns from 18 to 21. He also plans to write a bill that would ban civilians from buying body armor.

“I’m speaking out because I think that it’s something we need to discuss because I can’t in good conscience sit back and say I didn’t try to do something,” said Jacobs, who currently represents New York’s 27th Congressional District and is running for another term in the newly redrawn 23rd Congressional District. Jacobs acknowledged that speaking out for reforms largely supported by Democrats could harm his chances of winning reelection, though he does not yet have a Republican challenger.

Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) is among the GOP members who say more restrictions on gun ownership won’t necessarily solve the problem.

“We pass strict gun laws, people are still going to do this because we’re not addressing underlying problems that are causing people to be so deranged and so unstable that they’re even able to conceive these things,” Tenney told WKBW.

Both Jacobs and Tenney voted against H.R. 8, which would expand background checks. The Senate has not yet voted on the bill.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), running for governor, said at the briefing with Jacobs that he supports improving school safety and adding armed officers, but does not support a bill pushed by Gov. Kathy Hochul that would increase the age to purchase an AR-15.

“Law-abiding citizens would follow the law but if you’re seeking to carry out a crime with a firearm, you’re not going to be looking to honor the law,” he said.

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