It’s a short list, to be sure. On most of the votes cast on the various components of the sweeping gun control bills approved by the House Wednesday evening, just two Democrats voted in opposition, though the proposed ban and “buyback” of large capacity magazines managed to get a whopping four “nays” from House Democrats.
Maine’s Jared Golden and Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon were the two Democrats who voted against most of the the components of H.R. 7910, opposing five of the seven anti-gun measures up for debate and rejecting the overall package that will be sent to the Senate.
Golden, in a statement following the votes, criticized House leadership for “hastily” moving on the gun legislation and keeping the measures as a single package rather than standalone bills.
“While a handful of the individual provisions in the two bills before us have the potential to garner bipartisan support, taken as a whole, the bills are too sweeping in their design and fall far short of the support necessary to become law and save lives,” he added.
The congressman said “Now is not a time for bills we all know will fail,” and praised the Senate for engaging in bipartisan negotiations on gun legislation.
In addition to voting on the entire package, House lawmakers also weighed in on each of the seven provisions separately. Only the full package, however, will be sent to the Senate for consideration.
All seven provisions passed the House, Golden, who opposed a pair of background check bills last year, voted against five of the measures.
The measures he objected to call for raising the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic weapon from 18 to 21, bolstering storage of guns in home where minors could access the weapons, and requiring that untraceable guns and firearms without serial numbers — known as ghost guns — undergo background checks and receive serial numbers.
He also voted against measures banning high-capacity magazines for civilians and imposing new federal crime offenses for gun trafficking and straw purchases of firearms — when someone who is not able to pass a background check purchases a weapon through a proxy.
Golden is up for re-election in the Constitutional Carry state of Maine this fall, which might explain his vote on Wednesday, but he’s also rejected other attempts at gun control throughout his time in Congress, earning a “B”-grade (but not an endorsement) from the National Rifle Association in 2020.
Kurt Schrader, meanwhile, won’t be running for re-election this fall after losing a primary fight to a progressive candidate who had the backing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, among others. That’s also the case for four of the five Republicans who voted in favor of the overall gun control package, with Pennsylvania’s Brian Kilpatrick the only GOP House member up for re-election to join Democrats in voting to impose sweeping new restrictions on legal gun owners.
Three other swing district Democrats ended up voting in favor of the overall package, but voted “nay” on a couple of the proposals during the votes on individual components of the bill.
Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) joined Golden and Schrader in opposing the provision to ban civilian use of high-capacity magazines. Kind also objected to the measure bolstering safe storage of guns in homes where a minor can access the firearms.
Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) joined Golden in voting against advancing the two pieces of legislation, even though she is the sponsor of the Safe Guns, Safe Kids Act, one of the measures included in the package that calls for safe storage of firearms in homes. She did, however, ultimately vote for the final passage of the full package and each of the individual provisions
… A spokesman for Slotkin told The Hill that the congresswoman voted against the rule to express frustration with how Democratic leadership handled the gun measures. She specifically took issue with all the measures being included in a single package, rather than the House considering each provision separately.
The congresswoman joined a coalition of Democrats last week in penning a letter to House leadership, asking that the measures in the sweeping package be brought up for individual votes. The group, led by Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), argued that holding votes on each measure separately would maximize support in the Senate and increase the chances of the bills clearing the upper chamber.
Slotkin currently represents MI-8, which is a R+4 district according to the Cook Political Report, but is running for re-election in Michigan’s 7th District. That’s currently an even redder district than the one she represents, and the new district boundaries are still expected to give Republicans a numbers advantage this November.
Cuellar, meanwhile, has likely won a bitter primary fight with an AOC-backed candidate (though Jessica Cisneros is calling for a recount), and his hoping to hang on to his seat in a region of Texas that has been rapidly trending to the right. Importantly, though, Cuellar did support the overall gun control package, and has recently spoken in favor of barring adults under the age of 21 from purchasing modern sporting rifles, universal background checks, and “red flag” laws.
Rep. Ron Kind isn’t running for re-election this year, I suspect in large part because WI-3 has been trending more conservative over the past few election cycles, so it’s interesting (though ultimately irrelevant) that he voted no on the storage mandate and the ban on “large capacity” magazines. There are a half-dozen Democrats running to replace him, and we’ll see how many, or if any of them adopt a “moderate” stance on gun control versus the all-out calls to ban the most commonly-sold rifles in the country as they duke it out ahead of the August primary.
The handful of Democrats who objected to some or all of the gun control provisions approved by the House on Wednesday weren’t enough to derail the legislation, especially with five Republicans voting in favor of the overall bill. and the fact that two of the five who objected to any portion of the bill aren’t running for re-election is another clear sign that that the Democratic Party isn’t going to be softening its stance on criminalizing the right to keep and bear arms anytime soon, even as the number of new gun owners across the country continues to grow and become more diverse.