Axne, Finkenauer join Loebsack on assault weapons ban

All three Democrats representing Iowa in the U.S. House are now among 204 co-sponsors of a bill that would ban numerous forms of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

H.R. 1296 is modeled on the assault weapons ban that was in effect from 1994 to 2004. It would prohibit the sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of a wide range of semiautomatic weapons, including AK, AR, Thompson, and Uzi models, which have been used in various mass shootings. The bill would apply to shotguns with revolving cylinders or grenade launchers, as well as to any “semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that has the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.”

The bill would grandfather in any assault weapons lawfully possessed prior to its date of enactment.

Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02) was one of 190 original co-sponsors on the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019, introduced in February.

After reading this August 9 post by Howie Klein of the Down With Tyranny! blog, I realized Iowa’s two newest House members were among 40 Democrats not co-sponsoring the bill. That surprised me, because Representatives Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) and Cindy Axne (IA-03) voted for two major gun bills early this year. Axne specifically backed the idea of an assault weapons ban during the 2018 campaign.

Axne’s communications director Madeleine Russak provided the following comment to Bleeding Heartland on August 11:

Congresswoman Axne voted in favor of two bipartisan bills that would expand universal background checks and close gun show loopholes.

Congresswoman Axne also agrees with over 70% of the American public that we should ban military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

Axne was added to the list of co-sponsors on August 13.

I inadvertently sent my initial inquiry to someone no longer on Finkenauer’s staff. After realizing my mistake, I resubmitted the questions on August 20. Finkenauer signed on as a co-sponsor the same day. Her press secretary David Ade provided the following comment on August 21.

Rep. Finkenauer supports the 2nd Amendment but also believes that we should re-instate the assault weapons ban to ensure weapons of mass murder are not available to those who seek to cause harm.

Rep. Finkenauer grew up in a state and a household that supports the Second Amendment and the rights of Iowans to go hunting, but also believes in the right to go to church, to a movie theater, to a concert, or for Iowans to send their kids to school without the fear of them not coming back home.

Staff for Axne and Finkenauer did not respond on the record to a follow-up question seeking clarity on whether they had recently changed their position on the policy or were not original co-sponsors of H.R. 1296 due to an oversight (a huge number of bills were introduced early in the year). I would guess the latter, because as mentioned above, both voted for earlier Democratic-backed gun bills, and Axne had spoken publicly in favor of an assault weapons ban.

Final note: Representative Peter King of New York is the only Republican among the 204 House members currently co-sponsoring this bill. He signed on soon after the deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

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