Texas House Democrat says he's a "no" on semi-auto ban

Eric Gay

Rep. Henry Cuellar may be the first Democrat to come out in opposition to Rep. David Ciccillini’s ban on semi-automatic rifles, which Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) plans on marking up in committee next week, but he won’t be the last. The south Texas Democrat, who just won a hotly contested primary against a more progressive challenger, had his comms director announce on Friday afternoon that he won’t be voting in favor of the ban, which isn’t a huge surprise given his past support for the Second Amendment in Congress.


It is, however, a big problem for Nancy Pelosi and House leadership, because every Democratic defection means they have to hunt for a Republican willing to go along with banning the most commonly-sold rifles in the country. There were four Republicans who signed on to the House Democrats’ gun control package that was narrowly approved a few weeks ago, but there’s also no guarantee that all four will hop on board the gun ban bandwagon.

The Dallas Morning News reports that there’s one more Texas Democrat still on the fence, with Rep. Vicente Gonzalez’s spokesperson saying the congressman is “still reviewing” the legislation. Maine Democrat Jared Golden and Oregon’s Kurt Schrader, who voted against the House Democrats’ gun control package, have yet to sign on to Ciccillini’s bill either, and in fact as of Friday afternoon the legislation had 212 out of the 220 House Democrats listed as co-sponsors; the vast majority of the Democratic caucus, but not yet a majority in the 435-seat House.

The DMN has also poured some cold water on the fever dreams of anti-gun Democrats who are deluding themselves into thinking that next week’s markup is anything other than the opening act of a bit of political theater, calling the measure “doomed” even if it does end up squeaking out of the House.

Even if the House does pass the legislation, it will be dead on arrival in the Senate.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, was the lead Republican negotiator on a bipartisan gun violence package that was recently passed and signed into law. That package included funding for mental health and school security, along with modest changes to the nation’s gun laws.
It tightens restrictions on gun purchases by domestic violence offenders, puts new penalties on gun traffickers and implements enhanced reviews for gun purchasers under 21.
It also dedicates funding to state crisis intervention programs, which can include so-called “red flag” laws designed to get guns away from individuals deemed a danger to themselves or others.
Cornyn said repeatedly during the legislative process that Senate Republicans were not going to support proposals they viewed as infringing on the Second Amendment, such as wholesale bans on certain categories of guns.
Cornyn attended an event at the White House earlier this week celebrating the new bipartisan law. He said later that President Biden devoted much of his speaking time at the event to what Democrats were seeking but failed to get included in the bipartisan package.
“So it now sounds like they want to come back and have another bite at the apple but we’re not interested in having another negotiation,” Cornyn said. “To me, it was ironic because they were celebrating the passage of this bill, but then at the same time bemoaning all the things that they wanted that they didn’t get, which was a very strange position to be in. But no, I don’t anticipate any more legislation in that area for a while.”
The Senate version of Ciccillini’s bill has just  37 cosponsors, and is missing the names of some of the “moderate” Democrats in the upper chamber like Joe Manchin, Angus King, and Jon Tester. That’s less of a problem than defections from House Democrats at the moment, however, and unless Nancy Pelosi has a guarantee that the votes are there I doubt that the bill will ever be brought to the House floor for consideration.
Right now that’s a very open question. No Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors to Ciccillini’s bill, though that doesn’t mean that one or more won’t ultimately end up voting for it or signaling their support beforehand. Rep. Chris Jacobs of New York, for instance, who was one of four GOP House members to vote for the gun control package, publicly came out in favor of a ban on semi-automatic long guns and then announced he wouldn’t be running for re-election after getting an earful from his constituents on the issue. Pelosi can probably count on his vote along with a couple of other Republicans like Florida’s Brian Mast, who endorsed a ban in 2018 but did not vote in favor of the gun control package approved by the House a few weeks ago.
While there’s little chance that the bill will get to Joe Biden’s desk, it’s still a good idea to be in contact with your House member and let them know where you stand on the Democrats’ proposed gun ban. The outcome in the House is still very much up in the air, and your voice can absolutely make a difference… at least if your representative is willing to listen to what their constituents have to say.

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