• The House of Representatives voted 217-213 on Friday to ban assault weapons.
  • The proposal now heads to the Senate, where it needs the support of 10 Republicans to pass.
  • Assault weapons had been banned in 1994 but the prohibition expired 10 years later.

The House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill that would ban semi-automatic weapons. But the legislation is almost certain to fail in the 50-50 Senate.

The move comes in response to a recent spate of mass shootings, a majority of which were carried out with an assault weapon.

"Make no mistake, we know that an assault weapon ban can work because it has worked before," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a floor speech.

Assault weapons were banned in the US in 1994, but Congress failed to re-up the prohibition a decade later. 

A 2021 study estimated that the 10-year ban likely prevented 10 mass shootings. Had it the ban not been allowed to expire, an additional 30 mass shootings could have been prevented, researchers said, saving 339 lives.

Another study, published in 2019, estimated that the previous assault weapons ban prevented nine mass shootings, reducing casualties from such events by 70%

The renewed ban passed 217-213 nearly along party lines. But five Democrats and two Republicans broke rank with their party to vote with the other side.

Democratic Reps. Henry Cuellar of Texas, Jared Golden of Maine, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, Ron Kind of Wisconsin, and Kurt Schrader of Oregon all voted no.

Meanwhile, Republican Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Chris Jacobs of New York broke ranks and joined most Democrats in supporting the assault weapons ban.

In a statement, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who cosponsored the 1994 prohibition, praised the House's passage of a new ban.

"I hope the Senate will follow its lead and pass this commonsense bill to end gun violence," Feinstein said. "Military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines serve only one purpose: to kill as many people as possible, as quickly as possible."

Any ban will need the support of at least 10 Republicans in the Senate to overcome a GOP filibuster.

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