Nadler Opening Statement for Markup on Assault Weapons Ban Act of 2021
Washington, July 20, 2022
Washington, D.C. - House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler today delivered the following remarks, as prepared, during a markup of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2021 (H.R. 1808):
“As we have learned all too well in recent years, assault weapons—especially when combined with high-capacity magazines—are the weapon of choice for mass shootings. These military-style weapons are designed to kill the most people in the shortest amount of time.
“Quite simply, there is no place for them on our streets.
“In 1994, we banned these killing machines—and countless lives were saved—but that ban was allowed to lapse ten years later. And since then, we have seen the predictable results: mass shootings have increased exponentially and our public spaces—schools, movie theaters, supermarkets, houses of worship, parades, you name it—have all become vulnerable to attack.
“An assault weapon’s only purpose is to kill people efficiently. It is time to protect our communities and to ban them once more.
“The Assault Weapons Ban Act would prohibit the sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices. At the same time, it grandfathers existing semiautomatic assault weapons and contains numerous protections for law enforcement and responsible gun owners, such as hunters, gun collectors, farmers, sport shooters, and those who use firearms for self-defense.
“We will undoubtedly hear a variety of arguments from our Republican friends opposed to taking these deadly weapons off our streets. But it is important to consider today’s debate in the context of our other efforts to address the violence plaguing our communities.
“Time and again, Democrats have advanced responsible gun safety legislation only to face Republican opposition marching in lockstep with the extreme agenda of the gun industry.
“In this Committee, we have advanced bipartisan legislation to conduct background checks for all gun sales. Our Republican colleagues on the Judiciary Committee opposed it.
“We advanced legislation to close the Charleston loophole, ensuring that law enforcement has sufficient time to conduct a background check. Our Republican colleagues on the Committee opposed it.
“We advanced legislation to close the boyfriend loophole, which would keep guns away from domestic abusers. Our Republican colleagues opposed it.
“We advanced legislation to keep guns away from those who are a danger to themselves or others through extreme risk protection orders. Our Republican colleagues opposed it.
“Following the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, I introduced the Protecting Our Kids Act, which would raise the age for purchasing certain semiautomatic rifles to 21, prohibit straw purchasing, require safe storage, and ban large capacity magazines, bump stocks, and ghost guns. This legislation passed the House with bipartisan support, but most Republicans—including all our Republican colleagues on this committee—opposed it.
“We advanced the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which included some of these same provisions. Most of our Republican colleagues opposed it.
“We advanced legislation to provide more resources for law enforcement to solve murders, which reduces gun violence by putting murderers behind bars and reducing retaliatory shootings. Most of our Republican colleagues on the Committee opposed it.
“Recognizing that, despite our best efforts, we cannot prevent all incidents of gun violence, we advanced legislation to give law enforcement a tool to better notify the public when there is an active shooter. This legislation, endorsed by numerous law enforcement organizations, received bipartisan support on the House Floor, but most of our Republican colleagues on the Committee—yet again—were opposed.
“That brings us to our markup today. Will our Republican colleagues choose to defend the weapons of choice for mass murderers and those who seek to target law enforcement? Will they choose to defend tools designed to kill as many people as possible in the most efficient way?
“Or will they choose to defend parents who dread a phone call that their child was the victim of carnage in their classroom? Will they choose to defend Americans who simply want to go shopping, to march in a parade, or go to a movie theater, without the fear of having a target on their back? Will they choose to remove weapons of war from our streets?
“It is an easy choice for me.
“I want to thank Congressman Cicilline for his leadership in bringing this legislation forward. I urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting this important legislation and protecting Americans from gun violence.”