US raises legal age for owning guns to 21 in huge shake up after wave of mass killings

Gun Rights

US law makers have responded to recent mass shootings by voting to set a minimum age of 21 for buying semi-automatic weapons.

The United States House of Representatives vote was part of a wide-ranging gun control bill passed on Wednesday, which proposes raising the minimum age for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle and bans selling ammunition magazines that have a capacity of over 15 rounds.

The vote was passed by 223-204, while the section dealing with the minimum age for semi-automatic weapons went through 228-199.

The bill will not necessarily become law; Senate negotiations between Republicans and Democrats have been concentrating on other measures to potentially reduce gun violence such as better mental health programmes, improving security at school settings and enhancing background checks.

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Wooden crosses are placed at a memorial dedicated to the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School

The killing of 21 people, including 19 children, at a school in Uvdale has reignited the gun debate
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The bill is likely to face opposition from Republicans in the senate, although it could well provide Democratic politicians a chance to appeal to voters in November when they can point to their commitment to tighter gun laws, a policy that recent polls have suggested would be popular.

It is just over two weeks since the killing of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, and the House committee heard devastating accounts from victims and relatives of recent shootings.

Among them was 11-year-old Miah Cerrillo, who recalled daubing herself in her dead classmate’s blood and acting dead to avoid being shot.

Previous mass shootings have rarely led to political intervention over gun control but there have been recent cross-party discussions in the Senate about reducing gun violence.

A boy examines a firearm during the NRA annual convention

A boy examines a firearm during the NRA annual convention
Getty Images)

Over 700 people in the US have been killed since the Uvalde massacre last month but the NRA, the country’s biggest gun lobby, has a budget that means it can have significant influence over some members of Congress.

Republican party members tend to be more in favour of keeping the status quo and are mostly against gun control.

Congress is split fairly evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Around just 24% of Republicans are believed to advocate for stricter gun laws.

For the bill to become law, Democrats would need the support of 10 Republicans in the Senate.

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