Washington: The US House of Representatives passed a bill to ban assault weapons with a narrow 217-213 vote, the first vote of its kind in 18 years amid the increase in gun violence across the country.
The legislation passed on Friday night would prohibit the sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition feeding devices, reports Xinhua news agency.
But it would allow the possession of any semiautomatic assault weapon lawfully possessed on the date of enactment and the sale or transfer of any semiautomatic assault weapon lawfully possessed on the date of enactment following a background check, among other things.
“There are more guns than people in this country — more mass shootings than days in the year,” Congressman David Cicilline, a major sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “This is a uniquely American problem.”
President Joe Biden hailed the House vote, saying: “The majority of the American people agree with this common-sense action.”
He urged the Senate to “move quickly to get this bill to my desk”.
However, the bill has little chance of progressing in the Senate due to clear opposition from the Republicans.
Assault weapons and high-capacity magazines have been frequently used in the violence that plagues the country.
Of all mass shooting incidents between 2009 and 2018, assault weapons accounted for 25 per cent of deaths and 76 per cent of non-fatal injuries, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, an American non-profit organization that advocates for gun control and against gun violence.
Currently, only seven states and Washington, D.C. have banned assault weapons.
Gun violence has claimed more than 25,500 lives across the US so far this year, according to the latest data from Gun Violence Archive.