House Passes Bill to Repeal Assault Weapons Ban

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: The House voted to repeal the assault weapons ban today by a 239 to 173 margin. The bill received support from 183 Republicans and 56 Democrats, with 42 Republican joining 130 Democrats and 1 independent in opposition. President Clinton has repeatedly vowed to veto any repeal of the ban he pushed for as part of his 1994 crime bill. The vote followed a heated debate among legislators, especially between Democrat Patrick Kennedy and Republican Gerald Solomon, a cosponsor of the bill. Proponents say the ban has done little to reduce violent crime, and that it is a troubling first step toward the banning of other firearms. But Attorney General Janet Reno maintains that there has been an 18 percent drop in the number of assault weapons used in the commission of crimes since the ban was put in place. The National Rifle Association has pushed hard for the repeal. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have indicated that the upper chamber probably won't take up the measure this year. "This bill is not going to make it into law," says TIME's Karen Tumulty. "House Republicans promised their troops they would bring this issue up, but they are not going to push real hard for a Senate vote. They just want to be able to say that they tried. They are actually making President Clinton's day, allowing him to take a stand against an 'extremist' Congress."