An assault weapons ban is picking up steam in the House and on the 2020 campaign trail as Democrats search for a way to respond to two recent mass shootings while putting greater political pressure on recalcitrant Republican leaders.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the frontrunner in the Democratic race, this week vowed to reinstate and strengthen the 1994 ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines if he’s elected president, declaring in a New York Times op-ed: “We have to get these weapons of war off our streets.”
And nearly 200 House Democrats have now signed on to legislation — authored by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), the head of Democrats’ messaging operation — banning semi-automatic firearms and large-capacity magazines. With 198 co-sponsors, the bill is just 20 votes shy of the number needed to push the bill through the lower chamber.
Five Democrats added their names to Cicilline’s Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 in the immediate aftermath of the back-to-back massacres in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, that left a combined 22 dead and dozens more injured. Two more got on board on Tuesday: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), the brother of Democratic presidential hopeful Julian Castro, and Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), who unseated GOP Rep. David Young last fall.