Freedom First Society

Issue: H.R. 1808, Assault Weapons Ban of 2022. Question: On Passage.

Result:  Passed in House, 217 to 213, 1 not voting. Democrats only scored.

Freedom First Society: Another attempted step toward total civilian disarmament. An unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment protection of our right to keep and bear arms. The pretext of the proponents blames the weapon (gun violence) rather that the criminal. Moreover, the legislation would disarm the law-abiding rather than the criminal, who has illegal access.

Republicans voted almost unanimously in opposition (only two voted in favor), while losing.  Since some may be posturing when it doesn’t affect the outcome, we will only score the Democrats on this one. Five voted against.

We have assigned (good vote) to the Nays and (bad vote) to the Yeas. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)

Congressional Research Services Summary:

Shown Here:
Introduced in House (03/11/2021)

Assault Weapons Ban of 2021  (Needs Updating)

This bill makes it a crime to knowingly import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon (SAW) or large capacity ammunition feeding device (LCAFD).

The prohibition does not apply to a firearm that is (1) manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action; (2) permanently inoperable; (3) an antique; or (4) a rifle or shotgun specifically identified by make and model.

The bill also exempts from the prohibition the following, with respect to a SAW or LCAFD:

  • importation, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession related to certain law enforcement efforts, or authorized tests or experiments;
  • importation, sale, transfer, or possession related to securing nuclear materials; and
  • possession by a retired law enforcement officer.

The bill permits continued possession, sale, or transfer of a grandfathered SAW, which must be securely stored. A licensed gun dealer must conduct a background check prior to the sale or transfer of a grandfathered SAW between private parties.

The bill permits continued possession of, but prohibits sale or transfer of, a grandfathered LCAFD.

Newly manufactured LCAFDs must display serial number identification. Newly manufactured SAWs and LCAFDs must display the date of manufacture.

The bill also allows a state or local government to use Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program funds to compensate individuals who surrender a SAW or LCAFD under a buy-back program.

FFS Analysis:  During the ostensible “debate,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Arizona) was particularly on target with his opposition to the ban:

  Mr. Speaker, we do have a culture of human violence. Recently, a 16-year-old young man with three felony arrests in the past 4 months violently attacked and attempted to choke a New York subway police officer. He was released without bail. That is what is happening where you have the left in charge of criminal justice systems.

Why do I bring that up? Because that individual punched that police officer more than 20 times in his attempts to basically kill that officer. Personal weapons such as hands, fists, or feet accounted for 600 homicides in 2019, according to official reports. Mr. Speaker, 1,476 murders were committed with knives or cutting instruments, and 364 homicides were committed with rifles.

Do you see the distinction here? But what the Democrats are going for is they want to take away someone’s constitutional right instead of enforcing the law for people who are criminally violent. They are going to release those people back into your streets.

Supreme Court has held the Second Amendment protects arms in common use. But at markup, Chairman Nadler admitted that the purpose of the bill is to ban firearms that are in common use. Think about that. That does violence to the Constitution. They simply want to ban guns, and this is just another step along that path.

At markup, it became very clear that Democrats don’t even understand the guns that they are trying to ban, but they don’t care because when they say they want to put politics above people, or that we shouldn’t, what they really mean is they are going to.

Freedom First Society:  Although Democrats may be leading the assault on the Second Amendment, it is a mistake to view the assault on our freedom as a partisan problem.  Remember that Republicans have led the effort put the U.S. under regional government like the EU, most recently with the USMCA.

We defer here to several other of the Representatives who spoke forcefully against the Assault Weapons Ban.

From the Congressional Record (7-29-22) [Emphasis added]:

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Ranking Member, Judiciary Committee:

  Mr. Speaker, for years, the Democrats told us: We are not coming for your guns.

Oh, yes, they are.

Let’s be clear. The Second Amendment is as clear as possible. That is their beef. The Second Amendment says: The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. But they don’t care.

In fact, the sponsor of this legislation said so in committee. He said: “Spare me the BS about constitutional rights.” They don’t care about that fundamental liberty law-abiding citizens in this country enjoy, and they are coming for your firearms.

Six weeks ago, it was the red flag law, where someone who doesn’t like you can report you to law enforcement or to a judge. There is a hearing that you can’t be at, your counsel can’t be present, you haven’t been charged with a crime, but they can take your firearm, they can take your property, they can take away your Second Amendment liberties, and then you have to petition for a subsequent hearing to get that right back. And you have done nothing wrong and have not been charged with a crime.

Then House Democrats passed the unconstitutional legislation that said 18- to 20-year-olds can’t purchase a firearm. They can fight for our country, but they can’t purchase a firearm. And today they are coming for your guns, 24 million of them.

That is right, 24 million AR-style rifles are in the hands of law-abiding Americans today, as we speak, and those individuals will not be able to sell or transfer that property.

In the Heller case, the Supreme Court made clear that the Second Amendment protects firearms in common use at the time. During the markup, Representative Bishop asked the chairman: “Is it the point of the bill to ban weapons that are in common use in the United States today?” And the chairman said: ‘The problem is that they are in common use.”

So, yes, this is the goal. This is why it is unconstitutional. Couldn’t be any clearer. Democrats don’t care what the Constitution says.

Fortunately, courts are correctly applying the Constitution. Last week, a Federal District Court judge in Colorado, who was appointed by President Obama, issued a temporary restraining order against the Town of Superior, Colorado, to prevent it from implementing an assault weapon ban.

The judge wrote: Plaintiffs have stated that semiautomatic weapons, as well as magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, are commonly used by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes and, therefore, cannot be banned.

And guess what this bill will do? It won’t make communities safer. It won’t make them safer at all. In fact, in the Heller case, the Supreme Court said: The Second Amendment protects firearms in common use at the time and also said “for lawful purposes like self-defense.”

Three weeks ago, July 7, 2022, a Florida homeowner used his AR-style rifle when individuals forcibly entered his home. After the homeowner opened fire, the individuals immediately fled. When asked if the homeowner would face charges, the Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons said: Absolutely not. The homeowner is protecting himself. And in Florida, you can do that. You can protect yourself.

Democrats tried this ban before. It didn’t work. It won’t work now.

You know what it will do? It will make communities, I think, less safe. What will make communities safer, though, is if Democrats stop defunding the police, stop cashless bail, and start prosecuting criminals. They are taking away firearms used for self-defense by law-abiding Americans.  This bill is wrong. It will make communities, I think, less safe, and it is unconstitutional….

Mr. Speaker, here is the fact. This bill is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court made clear the Second Amendment protects firearms in common use. This bill has eight pages of weapons and firearms that it bans, including 24 million firearms that law-abiding American citizens possess today. That is the fact….

Mr. Speaker, red flag laws take all guns from some people. This bill makes illegal some guns for all people, and we know where they want to go. We know what they want to do. They want to take all guns from all people because they can’t stand the Second Amendment. They hate the Second Amendment.

In fact, during the markup, the sponsor of the legislation said this: “Spare me the BS about constitutional rights.”

Well, Republicans care about law-abiding citizens’ constitutional liberties: Their First Amendment rights, their Second Amendment rights, their Fourth Amendment due process rights. All of those have been attacked by the Democrats over the last several months.

That is why we should vote “no” on this legislation and let law-abiding Americans have the respect for the Second Amendment they deserve.

Rep. Richard Hudson (R-North Carolina):

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 1808, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2022.

Here they go again.  Once again, my colleagues across the aisle have rushed to exploit your fear and the pain of victims to rush out a gun control measure that will do nothing to save lives or address the root causes of violence.

I say, “exploit your fear,” and I point to the Speaker of the House just stood in this well with a poster that had a toy gun on it and wants you to feel scared about that. Well, I have a 6-year-old son, and he has toy guns. He knows about muzzle discipline. He knows you don’t put your finger on the trigger. He knows you don’t point it at people. I am able to teach my son gun safety and make him safer.

You don’t live through fear. This and other gun control measures like red flag laws, they make the other side feel better, but today’s bill will do nothing but disarm law-abiding citizens.

Congress has tried this before. In 1994, a 10-year assault weapons ban was first enacted. This ban did not stop violent crime or prevent heart-wrenching tragedies like Columbine. Yes, Columbine happened while we had an assault weapons ban.

In fact, after the ban ended, the Department of Justice issued a report that concluded: “Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement. Assault weapons were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban.” That is the Department of Justice.

The results are in, folks. A so-called assault weapons ban does not work. But what it does is it takes away your rights and it leaves you   vulnerable.

The simple truth is criminals don’t follow the law. Think about this: If criminals followed the law, we wouldn’t have any crime. But when you criminalize guns, only criminals are going to have guns.

So I urge you to vote “no” on this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, law-abiding Americans are sick and tired of these political games that exploit the pain of victims of shootings but do not work and seriously threaten your rights and your safety.

So today, I urge my colleagues to oppose this unconstitutional ban and ineffective gun control measure.

Instead, I ask you again to please work with me to actually address the root causes of violence.

We can pass bills like my STOP II, Secure Every School and Protect our Nation’s Children Act today, which would protect schools, improve mental health, and save lives.

We have solutions that work . . . without taking away your rights.  So I urge my colleagues to vote no.

Rep. John H. Rutherford (R-Florida):

  Mr. Speaker, America doesn’t have a gun violence problem, we have a human violence problem. But those across the aisle don’t want to talk about that because then you have to talk about the culture of death that we have created in this country. Killing 63 million unborn children. Denying the sanctity of life. That is the conversation that they don’t want to have.

Mr. Speaker, as a former police officer, I have encountered many dangerous people with guns, and we stopped them before they hurt themselves or others. We identified them. We identified the threats that they were making. Then we were able to intervene and stop those individuals before they became a shooter.

That is what we should be focused on in the wake of these recent tragedies. Give law enforcement the tools and resources to stop those who have shown a propensity to become violent. That is what we should be focusing on, not defunding the police, not demoralizing the police, not delegitimizing the police. We should be focused on assisting the police and identifying these individuals who want to commit crime.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Judiciary Committee:

 Mr. Speaker, the previous assault weapons ban that was referenced by our Speaker, I just want to make sure our record is actually correct. The FBI that kept the data had to admit that, as sympathetic as they were to an assault weapons ban, actually, it doesn’t appear to have really made any difference.

If we want to talk about crime since then, we can talk about the big cities that have come under the control of Democratic authority, who have pushed for things like no bond.

John Adams had it exactly right. This Constitution is intended for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the governing of any other. So, we are either going to have to get rid of all of our constitutional rights — we can’t even allow freedom of an assembly or speech, much less the Second Amendment, if we are not going to teach moral right and wrong.

What are we finding? We are finding in our schools, of course, that they are not teaching the Ten Commandments. Instead, they are teaching to envy. Look around, covet, see who has something more than you, and you should envy and covet.

Just keep in mind, under the big city laws now, if you get violent, we will give you no bond. We will let you right back out.

Do you want to know what would do more right now than banning AR-15s? It would be to ban Democrat thinking in the big cities that is allowing the crime rates to just explode.

We have always had guns in America. That is why there is an America. But we never had a time like this when we were teaching our children everything but the moral imperatives.

That is why this bill needs to go down, and we need to go after the causes of our violence.

Rep. Ben Cline (R-Virginia):

  My fellow Americans, the Democrats are coming for your guns. This assault weapons ban is unconstitutional because it would ban firearms that are currently in common use, making the scope of the bill, a semiautomatic assault weapons ban, overly broad by capturing millions of sporting rifles, shotguns, and pistols that simply have certain accessories and cosmetic features. In fact, the bill focuses mostly on appearance, which would arbitrarily ban some firearm models while exempting others with the same functionality.

This bill would not reduce violent crime, as Democrats claim. Studies have shown that the effect of the last assault weapons ban in 1994 on violent crime was perhaps too small for a reliable measurement. Instead, what this bill and all other legislation from Democrats aimed at gun control would do is directly infringe on the rights of law-abiding Americans.

They are not going to stop here. There will always be a scary-looking gun that they think needs to be banned. There will always be another loophole that they have created out of thin air that they need to close with more bans.

Mr. Speaker, this document says “shall not be infringed.” I urge a “no” vote.

Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas):

  Mr. Speaker, today, I am voting against the erosion of constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.

In the long history of mankind, freedom and liberty are not lost overnight. It comes by way of a slow and gradual burn.

We have seen an unprecedented assault on our First Amendment through the legacy media and social media giants censoring the thoughts and opinions of individuals of the right while propping up their favorite candidates and covering up stories that could be detrimental to their public personas.

Policies are then implemented that are antireligious freedom, anti-due process, anti-free assembly, and, today, anti-Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. These rights shall not be infringed.

Instead of making families and communities safer, this backward, gun-grabbing attempt does nothing to harden school security, address our mental health crisis, or reverse the depreciation of our morals and values.

No, it does nothing for that, but it tears at the fabric of our Constitution.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to protect the Constitution and vote “no.”

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), Judiciary Committee:

  Fact: This assault weapons ban bill is unconstitutional. Chairman Nadler even recognized, when he stated that “the problem is that these weapons are in common use.” And in Heller, the Supreme Court ruled that the Bill of Rights clearly protects firearms in common use. This is an unconstitutional piece of legislation.

Fact: The assault weapons bill will ban weapons in common use, and my colleague will most assuredly target citizens to take their guns.

In the words of Democratic perpetual candidate Beto O’Rourke: Hell, yes, we are going to take your AR-15 and your AK-47.

That is the truth, and everyone knows it. Don’t hide behind it. Everybody knows precisely what my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are doing.

Fact: Less than 2 percent of all prisoners had a firearm obtained from a retail source at the time they committed their crimes. Only 13 percent of the offenders in State prison populations obtained their firearms from retail stores. Criminals usually don’t get their guns at gun stores through legal channels. That is a fact.

Another fact: Upwards of 80 percent crimes are committed by people with prior arrest records, often by people with prior convictions for violent crimes or prior weapons offenses, and almost none of our gun control proposals–and particularly this one–are targeting this group. That is the truth.

Those are the facts. The fact is, as Thomas Jefferson said: “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

This is the precise kind of tyranny that my colleagues are exercising today, precisely when they are opening our borders up to lawless cartels and gangs, and precisely when they are defunding the police. Precisely when they are making our communities unsafe, they want to limit the ability of the American people to defend themselves and to exercise their Second Amendment rights to protect their families.

That is what is happening on the floor so my colleagues can appeal to their liberal White voters while they ignore the Black men and women and Brown men and women who are buying weapons to defend themselves in criminal hellholes in our country.

Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (R-North Carolina):

In markup I asked if any Democrat disputed that this bill bans guns and magazines in common use. Chairman Nadler candidly responded: “That’s the point of the bill.”

In other words, the essence of the bill is to stop commerce in weapons as alternatively described by the Court in Heller in 2008 as those “typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.”

Heller explained the origins of the right to keep and bear arms in militia service. Ordinarily, when called for militia service, able-bodied men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.

The Supreme Court further explained we also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and bear and carry arms. In Miller it said, as we have explained, that the sort of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.”

This was explained and recapitulated in Bruen just a month ago on June 23, and we see repeatedly that this is being defied. In fact, 1 week after Bruen, the Supreme Court granted petitions for certiorari, vacated, and remanded one State ban on MSRs and a State ban on magazines in common use to be reconsidered.

This is in defiance of the Supreme Court.

Rep. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Wisconsin):

  Mr. Speaker, just imagine a 17-year-old makes a decision to enlist in the Army, the Marine Corps, or the Navy. And then that 17-year-old goes through 8 weeks of basic combat training at one of the basic training centers in Fort Jackson or Fort Knox or Fort Benning. Then they are given a service weapon, an M16 typically, and then they are taught to assemble and disassemble that weapon down to the bolt.

They will go through training with a drill sergeant on a range and they are taught how to fire their service weapon in live-fire exercises. Then the 17-year-old will go on to AIT to be taught their specialty and continue to be on Active Duty or the Reserves or in the National Guard and then potentially deployed.

What this bill seeks to do is prevent this member of the military who comes home, either to the Reserve unit or National Guard unit or on Active Duty, from purchasing a rifle that they can use on their own.

My colleagues who support the bill are saying: We trusted you to join the service. We encouraged you to join the service. But then when it comes down to it, we really don’t trust you to go out and purchase that weapon.

It makes no sense.  If the majority is going to snub every veteran in this country by saying: We don’t trust you. Then how can the U.S. Government ask someone to enlist when they don’t trust them to have the same responsibility with their own personal weapon?

Rep. Andrew S. Clyde (R-Georgia):

  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 1808, which is just the latest gun-grabbing bill Democrats are dangerously ramming through in their unconstitutional crusade to disarm America.

The ink is barely dry on the anti-gun bill from last month, and here they are pushing another anti-gun bill that proclaims to make us safer but does the exact opposite. It puts citizens at greater risk by taking away the rights of the law-abiding.

This legislation takes aim at our Constitution by banning what the Democrats call assault weapons, which is a vague political term used as a catchphrase to make the public think we are banning guns that assault people. But the truth is that the bill would ban the most popular semiautomatic rifle in America, the AR-15 and what the industry calls a modern sporting rifle.

The Democrats have consistently called them weapons of war and are trying to ban them from being purchased by law-abiding citizens.

But whom does this bill exempt?

The Federal Government. Federal Government agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, the Department of Labor, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and down the line.

So if they are weapons of war, as the Democrats call them, what do these departments need with weapons of war?

Is the Department of Education going to use them against the moms and dads who protest against woke local school board policies?

Is the Department of Housing and Urban Development going to use them against the occupants in their housing developments?

You cannot have it both ways. If it is a weapon of war, then ban these Federal agencies, too.

The truth is they are simply semiautomatic rifles the Democrats want to demonize so they can ban more guns and take more of our citizens’ unalienable constitutional rights away.

Democrat ignorance and malice do not justify banning nearly 25 million firearms that Americans, including myself, proudly own and responsibly use.

Now I know the author of this legislation would prefer that I spare him both the prefatory clause and the supremacy clause of the Second Amendment. But it is quite clear: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Shall not be infringed, period, is the supremacy clause. And banning an entire class of firearms, the most popular firearm in common use today, is clearly infringement.

An armed America is a safe and free America. I urge all of my colleagues to stand firm in the fight to protect and preserve the Second Amendment by voting “no” on this unconstitutional and, therefore, illegal piece of legislation.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), Chairman House Second Amendment Caucus:

Mr. Speaker, if facts are the ammunition of debate, I point out that the other side of the aisle entered this room unarmed.

There are so many mischaracterizations or misfires, if you will, about this bill and what this bill does that I don’t know where to start.

But let me start here with the words of the author of this bill. He says it will ban weapons of war only suitable for soldiers in combat.

Is that what it does? Does it ban an M16? It doesn’t ban an M16 or an M4. It bans the most commonly sold rifle in the United States today and for the last several years.

It doesn’t ban weapons of war. It explicitly exempts the M1 Garand. General Patton said the M1 Garand is the finest implement of battle ever devised. Why is it exempted? It is a weapon of war.

It exempts the M1 Carbine. Look at the picture of the soldiers, the marines at Iwo Jima. What were they carrying? The M1 Carbine.

It exempts the quintessential Cold War weapon, the pride of the Chinese and the Communists, the SKS. It is exempted in this bill. These are literal weapons of war that are not in this bill.

Now, they will come back and ban those, but they don’t want to ban them right now because they don’t look scary enough. They have a wooden forestock and a wooden butt. They not made of plastic. They don’t look like the scary stuff on the news, so they have no interest in banning that.

Literal, actual weapons of war are not banned, but the most common firearm sold today is banned.

But let’s take them at their word. Weapons of war. These are weapons of war. We have got to ban weapons of war.

Well, they exempt 80-some Federal agencies from the ban. Literally, every bureaucratic agency in the government can have a weapon of war under this bill; weapons of war as they call them.

So we offered an amendment in the committee. We couldn’t conceive of why the Department of Education would need a weapon of war to complete their mission of educating our children; coming up with the curriculum.

We couldn’t conceive of why the USDA would need weapons of war, so we offered an amendment to exempt the USDA and the Department of Education from being able to have these weapons of war; so-called weapons of war.

Every Democrat, even though they couldn’t give us a good reason of why these agencies would need weapons of war, or with whom they planned to go to war–are they bringing them to the school board? Where are they going to bring these things?

Now, they couldn’t give a good reason why these agencies would need weapons of war. But they all voted to allow these agencies to have weapons of war.

Now, the reason they did, we came to that conclusion is, they aren’t weapons of war. It is the most common firearm sold in the United States today. These are not weapons of war.

There was one Democrat who did articulate a reason. He said, well, they are actually good for defense. You have might need them to defend the Department of Education. Well, that is what the Second Amendment is about.

It is not about making sure that the Department of Education–which, by the way, is unconstitutional–but it is not making sure that the Department of Education could have proper defense; it is for the people to have proper defense. So that is the first falsehood.

Now, here is another reason that gun owners should be concerned about this bill. Maybe you don’t own one of these firearms, but if you own guns, you know about terminal ballistics. You know what are suitable calibers for hunting deer, for hunting coyotes.

We have heard it said here today, and in the committee, and they showed us a video, oh, the terminal ballistics of a .223 round are so dangerous that we need to ban these AR-15s because they shoot .223 rounds.

What they didn’t show you was a video of a deer cartridge, like a .30-06, or a 7-millimeter, or a .308.

If you are banning–if the purpose of this legislation is to ban these firearms because they shoot a cartridge with those terminal ballistics of a .223, then you plan, you absolutely plan to come after deer rifles because they have two and three times as much power; two and three times as much destructive and killing power as the firearm–as the cartridge used in the firearm that you seek to ban here today.

Another falsehood. This bill will save lives. Let me get to this. We heard it here today. I was waiting for it. It was mentioned a couple of times. Even the Speaker of the House mentioned it.

They have said that the 1994-2004 assault weapons ban–so-called assault weapons–reduced crime; that crime went down. Well, guess what? From 1995-2004, there were 2 million of these firearms imported or manufactured and sold. 

The number of these rifles doubled in the United States during your last assault weapons ban. If you think crime went down because of the last assault weapons ban, then you have got some explaining to do because the number of those rifles increased. Maybe, just maybe people became safer.

Mr. Speaker, I urge opposition to this bill.

Rep. Jodey C. Arrington (R-Texas):

Too often, Mr. Speaker, we skip over the fundamental principle and precept and driver of the Second Amendment, so let’s reaffirm our faith here.

Our Founders were determined to fight against their own government for our freedom and independence. They stated unequivocally that when there was a train of abuses and usurpations, and the citizens were reduced to absolute despotism, it was our right and our duty to throw off that government.

We wouldn’t have these United States, we wouldn’t be here today, without this sacred Second Amendment. Every law-abiding citizen in America must be able to meet evil with equal or greater force, whether it is a violent criminal, a crazed killer, or a coercive government.

Mr. Speaker, we must reject this attempt to trample the Constitution, to violate the spirit of what those Founders wrote into that sacred document, and disarm our citizens.

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