Gun control: what laws are in the ‘Protecting Our Kids Act’ legislation passed by the House?
The package passed the House of Representatives but is expected to fall in the Senate, where Republicans are unified in opposition to more gun control laws.
On Wednesday the House of Representatives voted 223-204 in favour of passing a broad legislative package designed to address the growing problem of gun violence in the United States.
The legislation is called the Protecting Our Kids Act and it comes after weeks of sustained pressure on lawmakers in the wake of a number of high-profile mass shootings.
The bill was passed, broadly along partisan lines, although five Republicans (Reps. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Fred Upton of Michigan, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Chris Jacobs of New York) also voted for the package.
Despite passing the House it is extremely unlikely to pass the Senate where GOP opposition to any further gun control is resolute. The Upper House also requires a 60-vote supermajority to pass legislation, unlike the House where a simple majority is sufficient.
What is in the Protecting Our Kids Act?
Although it was proposed as a single package, the legislation is actually comprised of a series of individual bills which aim to tackle specific components of the gun violence problem. In recent weeks mass shootings at Robb Elementary School and a supermarket in Buffalo were carried out by young people; the new legislation would raise the legal age to buy semiautomatic centrefire rifles from 18 to 21 years old.
New regulations for specific types of firearms and accessories are also included in the bill. The existing federal regulation on the use of bump stocks would be tightened, as would restrictions on ghost guns.
There is a concerted effort to prevent prospective shooters from purchasing the type of large-capacity magazines often used in mass shootings. The sale and trafficking of large-capacity magazines would be outlawed for certain types of firearms and local governments will be able to buy back such magazines with federal funds.
Firearm storage is also a key concern and new tax incentives would promote the sale and use of safe storage devices. There are already some federal requirements relating to the storage of firearms, but new measures included in the Protecting Our Kids Act would increase the penalties for failure to comply with the laws.
Speaking in the House when the package was proposed, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “America has lost more children from gun violence than any other cause. Does that embarrass you? To think that, in our country, more children have died from gun violence than any other cause? These stories are tragically all too common in America today.”