Washington: US House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill to ban assault-style weapons, marking the first time lawmakers approving a prohibition on the popular firearms in more than two decades.
The bill passed in a largely party-line vote of 217-213, with two Republicans voting for the measure and five Democrats opposing it, the Hill reported.
Democrats Henry Cuellar of Texas, Jared Golden of Maine, Ron Kind of Wisconsin, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas and Kurt Schrader of Oregon voted against the ban.
Republicans Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Chris Jacobs of New York voted for the bill.
Though the bill received bipartisan support in the House, the legislation has little chance of progressing in the Senate because of widespread Republican opposition, many Democrats in the House cited the recent mass shootings involving such firearms as a pressing reason to outlaw them.
On Friday morning, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would take up the legislation that afternoon, scheduling the last-minute vote days after she said the chamber would put consideration of the legislation to next month, the Hill reported.
“Today, our Democratic Majority will take up and pass the Assault Weapons Ban legislation: a crucial step in our ongoing fight against the deadly epidemic of gun violence in our nation,” Pelosi said in a letter to members of her party ahead of the vote.
Democrats had planned to move the assault weapons ban with community safety legislation under one rule but ultimately decided to consider them separately after some liberals voiced concerns about a lack of accountability in the police measures.
The assault weapons ban legislation, led by Representative David Cicilline and co-sponsored by 207 voting Democrats, specifically calls for prohibiting the sale, manufacture, transfer or import of various semiautomatic assault weapons, semiautomatic pistols and semiautomatic shotguns, depending on their features, the Hill reported.
For example, all semi-automatic rifles that can accept detachable magazines and have a pistol grip, a forward grip, a grenade launcher, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel or a folding, telescoping or detachable stock are subject to the ban.
Semiautomatic assault rifles with fixed magazines that can accept more than 15 rounds are subject to the ban and would also be prohibited under the legislation, except those with an attached tubular device that can only hold .22 calibre rimfire ammunition.
The vote on an assault weapons ban is the latest firearm-related legislation the House has passed following a string of mass shootings the country has witnessed, the Hill reported.
The bill marked the first time in almost three decades that Congress had approved significant legislation to combat gun violence.
The measure enhanced background checks for gun purchasers ages 18 to 21 and established a federal offence for individuals obtaining firearms through straw purchases or trafficking, among other provisions.
Last month, President Joe Biden signed into law a gun safety bill, which was cleared by the House and Senate both in a bipartisan manner and urged US Congress to ban assault weapons.
Biden had said that the US needs to ban assault weapons for the sake of protecting children and families or raise the age to purchase them from 18 to 21, expressing concerns over the increasing incidents of gun violence in the United States.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there had been 302 mass shootings across the US this year.