Few members of the House of Representatives broke party rank on two Democrat-sponsored Gun Background Review bills that the chamber passed on Thursday. This continued the trend of partisan votes on arms policy and underscored the increasing ideological homogeneity in both parties.
Only nine members crossed the party lines on a bill (HR 8) that would require background checks for all arms sales, including at arms displays. Eight Republicans voted for the bill, while Rep. Jared Golden (Maine), who is replacing county president Joe Biden, who was lost in the 2020 election, was the only Democratic defector. The vote was 227-203.
There were even fewer party line defectors – four – on a second bill (HR 1446) the House passed between 219 and 210, a measure that would prevent arms sales from resuming if a background check is not completed within three days .
The votes reflect the increasing polarization on Capitol Hill since the early 1990s, when the GOP had a sizeable moderate contingent backing some gun control measures, while rural and southern Democrats who opposed such curbs had a greater presence in their party . Voting on cultural issues like gun control has become more important for winning party primaries.
The Republicans who supported closing the “gun display gap” were Vern Buchanan (Fla.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Andrew Garbarino (NY), Carlos Gimenez (Fla.), Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), Maria Elvira Salazar (Fla.), Chris Smith (NJ) and Fred Upton (Me.).
Buchanan, Fitzpatrick, Smith and Upton were also among the eight Republicans who voted for a similar bill in February 2019 at the 116th Congress. Garbarino, Gimenez and Salazar are in their first terms.
Kinzinger, the only member to back the bill the House passed on Thursday after voting against the 2019 version, said in a statement: “We have a violence problem in this country and it cannot be ignored.” He cited mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas in August 2019.
Republican representatives. Brian Mast (Fla.) And Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.) Moved to no after the yes vote in 2019. Mast said in a statement that the new bill included amendments that “dramatically increased the power of unelected DC bureaucrats to unilaterally implement new gun control measures.” Florida lawmakers’ votes also came a year after the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people.
Republicans Pete King (NY) and Will Hurd (Texas), who voted for the 2019 bill, did not seek re-election in 2020. Garbarino succeeded King.
Golden and Collin Peterson (Minn.) Were the only Democrats to oppose the 2019 measure. Peterson was beaten for re-election in a predominantly Republican county in 2020.
Golden and Ron child (Wis.) Were the only two Democrats to vote no on the second gun action on Thursday. Kind represents a large district in western Wisconsin that Biden lost in 2020. Fitzpatrick and Smith were the only two Republican supporters of the bill.
Fitzpatrick and Smith, along with King, broke the ranks to vote for similar laws in February 2019. Golden and Kind opposed the 2019 bill, as did Peterson and four other Democrats who were ousted in the 2020 election in heavily Republican districts – Anthony Brindisi, NY, Kendra Horn, Okla., Ben McAdams, Utah, and Xochitl Torres Small (NM).
Rep. Jeff Van Drew (RN.J.) voted against both bills on Thursday after supporting the 2019 versions as a Democrat.
A generation ago there were far more Democrats who voted against gun legislation and more Republicans who supported it. Many of the Democratic defectors were moderates and conservatives from rural and terrestrial Democratic areas, while many of the Republicans who supported some gun control measures were moderates from the Northeast and Midwest.
When Congress passed the Brady Act in 1993, which required background checks and initially allowed a five-day wait to purchase weapons, 56 of the House’s 172 Republicans voted in favor of the measure and 70 of 252 Democrats opposed it. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Then a member of the House of Representatives, was also against it.
The following year, the democratically run house voted between 216 and 214 to ban the sale of certain semi-automatic firearms, often referred to as “assault weapons.” Seventy-seven Democrats were against and 38 Republicans voted in favor of the ban, which was contained in a comprehensive crime-fighting package that President Bill Clinton had signed into law.
In 2005, the Republican-led house passed law to protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits if their guns are used in crimes. All but four Republicans were supported by 59 Democrats.
In 2011 the House passed a law called the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, which allows gun owners to more easily carry hidden guns across state lines. Seven Republicans voted no and 43 Democrats voted yes.
In 2017, the House passed a similar bill: 14 Republicans voted no and only six Democrats voted yes. Some of the Republicans who voted no were gun rights advocates who objected to the bill’s provisions from a separate bill that allowed reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which was introduced by the Brady Act in 1998 was introduced to determine whether it is a potential customer should be empowered The buyer of a weapon is excluded from purchasing the weapon.
Also in 2017, the GOP-led house voted to roll back an Obama administrative rule requiring the Social Security Agency to send NICS information about people unable to manage their disability benefits. Two Republicans voted no and six Democrats supported the move.
Everytown for Gun Safety is committed to universal background checks and other weapons control measures. Michael Bloomberg is the majority owner of the Bloomberg government’s parent company and a member of the Advisory Board of Everytown.
How to contact the reporter about this story: Greg Giroux in Washington [email protected]
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bennett Roth at the [email protected];; Kyle Trygstad at the [email protected]
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