WASHINGTON: US senate Republicans moved to block a ban on assault-style weapons put forward by Democrats on Wednesday, as the US recorded the highest number of mass shootings for the second year in a row.
The motion, put forward by Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, would have reauthorised the Assault Weapons Ban, which first passed in 1994 and expired 10 years later.
The ban covers certain semi-automatic firearms and large-capacity ammunition magazines, and ushered in a decrease in deaths from gun violence while it was in place.
“The American people are sick and tired of enduring one mass shooting after another,” Schumer said on Wednesday in a speech bringing the motion to the floor. “They’re sick and tired of vigils and moments of silence for family, friends, classmates, coworkers.”
Republican senator John Barrasso blocked Schumer’s attempt to reauthorise the ban by unanimous consent.
“Americans have a Constitutional right to own a firearm,” he said in a speech on the Senate floor, arguing that the bill was about “trying to label responsible gun owners as criminals.”
The US had 39 mass shootings in 2023 so far, according to a database maintained by the Associated Press, USA Today, and Northeastern University, which defines a mass shooting as one in which at least four people are killed, not including the shooter.
That means 2023 is set to be the worst year on record since the database began in 2006, the second consecutive year to break that record.
The most recent high-profile killing happened in Lewiston, Maine, where 18 people were shot by a US Army reservist who committed suicide shortly after the shooting spree.
The incident caused Democratic representative Jared Golden, who represents the district in which the shooting took place, to publicly change his stance on an assault-style weapons ban.
Gun violence has been the No 1 cause of death for children in the US since 2020.