Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (AL-07) voted on Wednesday in favor of the Democrats’ gun control bill. Sewell said that the legislation will protect Alabama communities and save lives with a strong legislative package to address gun violence. The Protecting Our Kids Act increases penalties for illegal gun trafficking, raises the age to purchase firearms, adds requirements for safe gun storage, restricts access to untraceable “ghost guns,” imposes universal background checks and more.

“It is unconscionable that gun violence is the leading killer of children in our nation and in Alabama,” Rep. Sewell said in a statement. “The time for thoughts and prayers is over. We in Congress have a moral obligation to take action to prevent these senseless killings.”

The controversial legislation passed on a largely party-line vote.

“Today, the House took bold action to help stop the bloodshed,” said Sewell. “I was proud to vote for the Protecting Our Kids Act which advances common-sense measures to keep Alabamians safe, from getting illegal guns off the streets to banning high-capacity weapons to raising the age to purchase semi-automatic weapons. This is not about targeting responsible gun owners. This is about keeping guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them and saving lives.”

Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL06) and most Republicans opposed the legislation, which has the full support of President Joseph R. Biden (D). Palmer recently suggested that Biden is attempting to use the gun control issue to rally Democrats ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

“He is desperate for something to galvanize his base going into the midterm elections," Palmer said recently.

 According to statistics shared by Rep. Sewell’s office, gun violence in America is responsible for more than 45,000 deaths per year, including 1,090 in Alabama alone. Every day, 30 Americans are murdered with a gun—a number that rises to more than 100 when counting suicides and accidental shootings. In addition to this daily loss of life, gun violence continues to inflict a heavy financial burden—imposing $2.8 billion in emergency room and inpatient costs on Americans each year.

Sewell’s office said that “This epidemic of gun violence has continued to tear through communities in Alabama and across the country. Last month, Americans were horrified by mass shootings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and a supermarket in Buffalo, New York—both carried out by 18-year-olds legally armed with semi-automatic assault rifles. Just this past weekend, at least thirteen mass shootings terrorized more communities across the country.”

The Protecting Our Kids Act includes:

  • ·         Raising the purchasing age for semi-automatic weapons like AR-15s to 21.

  • ·         The Prevent Gun Trafficking Act cracks down on gun trafficking and straw purchases.

  • ·         The Untraceable Firearms Act: subjects ghost gun purchases to background check requirements.

  • ·         The Closing the Bump Stock Loophole Act bans bump stocks for civilians.

  • ·         The Keep Americans Safe Act outlaws high-capacity magazines.

  • ·         Strengthens safe storage requirements.

  • ·         Requires an annual report of demographic data of those being determined to be ineligible to purchase guns.

  • ·         Advances universal background checks for all gun purchases.

The omnibus gun control legislation now goes to the U.S. Senate for their consideration. Senators are working on a compromise piece of legislation. Some Democrats have suggested using the budget reconciliation process to avoid the 60 vote requirement.

On Thursday, the House is expected to vote on additional legislation establishing extreme risk protection orders, empowering courts to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others. This “red-flag law” would allow a family member, neighbor, or acquaintance to file a report to law enforcement that an American should be deprived of their Second Amendment rights because the person filing the report believes that they are a danger to themselves or the community. The police would then seize the citizen’s gun. The gun owner would then must go to court to prove that they are not violent or mentally unfit. Second Amendment activists argue that this unconstitutionally infringes upon a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms.

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