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A mass shooter with an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon killed at least 18 people in Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday and injured many more. Republicans in Congress have consistently blocked legislation that would have banned the sale and possession of the AR-15 and other assault weapons.

Of the hundreds of mass shootings that have taken place in the United States in recent years,  a significant number have involved the use of an AR-15-style assault rifle. 

In 1994, Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed a 10-year ban on the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. The National Rifle Association opposed the law, and its Republican allies in Congress have blocked efforts to renew it for two decades.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed a bill in 2022 that would have prohibited the possession or sale of semi-automatic rifles and large-capacity ammunition feeding devices. Nearly all House Republicans opposed it, claiming: “Democrats know this unconstitutional bill will not stop violent crime or reduce the likelihood of mass shootings, but they are obsessed with disarming law-abiding Americans and limiting their Constitutional rights.”

Michigan Republican Reps. Jack Bergman, Bill Huizenga, Lisa McClain, John Moolenaar, and Tim Walberg each voted against the ban. They also voted against a 2022 red flag bill that would have allowed judges to temporarily take guns away from those deemed imminent dangers. 

Democratic Reps. Debbie Dingell, Dan Kildee, Elissa Slotkin, Haley Stevens, and Rashida Tlaib voted for both bills.

Republican Rep. John James and Democratic Reps. Hillary Scholten and Shri Thanedar were not in Congress at the time. James opposes gun safety legislation and has received more than $500,000 in support from the NRA and its super PAC since 2018. Scholten and Thanedar are co-sponsors of a current assault weapons ban bill. 

Senate Republicans effectively blocked action on both bills. Democratic Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow have endorsed these and other gun safety laws.

Several NRA-backed Republican lawmakers responded to the Maine shootings by tweeting that they are praying for the victims. 

“Sending prayers to Lewistown [sic], Maine tonight,” tweeted Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, who is a co-sponsor of a GOP bill to designate the AR-15 the national gun of the United States. “Know that the entire country is praying for you.”

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