Rep. Chris Jacobs proposes assault weapon licensing legislation

Congressman Chris Jacobs on Sept. 19th, 2022.
Congressman Chris Jacobs on Sept. 19th, 2022. Photo credit Max Faery, WBEN

Washington, D.C. (WBEN) - Congressman Chris Jacobs was one of two Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted for a ban of assault weapons after the mass shootings this summer. Now acknowledging that a ban may not happen anytime soon in the nation, he is proposing a new bill for licensing assault weapons.

In his office in Williamsville on Monday morning, the congressman introduced the Federal Assault Weapons Licensing Act, which would require all those purchasing a semi-automatic assault weapon to go through an extensive background checks, get fingerprinted and take a firearms safety training course as well as a $130 processing fee to the Department of Justice. Licenses would have to be renewed every 5 years.

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"This bill, I believe, is a common sense piece of legislation designed as a compromise to ensure Second Amendment rights are protected, while also putting additional safety protections in place to stop the wrong people from obtaining assault weapons. Let's be clear, the vast majority of gun owners are responsible Americans. However, the horrific tragedies we witnessed suggest additional protections are needed," said Congressman Jacobs.

Jacobs' proposal has a grandfathering clause, "If you currently own an assault weapon, there will be nothing additional required on you. If you're in law enforcement, a retired law enforcement veteran, you will be able to obtain the license. There's several other several other exemptions as well," Rep. Jacobs said.

The other exemptions include people without a license, if accompanied by a license holder, would be allowed to use semi-automatic weapons at shooting ranges or when they are hunting. People would also be allowed to use them without a license in an attempt to protect others from death or serious injury.

The Congressman also notes that if a state has a rigorous licensing regime, such as New York State's new concealed carry permit laws that went into effect the beginning of September, there would be no additional requirements.

This bill could take people 30 days to obtain a license which Rep. Jacobs hopes will deter mass shooters who appear to be acting on violent urges.

Congressman Jacobs says he doesn't regret changing his stance on assault weapons, "I spent a lot of time talking with people in the Second Amendment community about why they were uncomfortable with any additional regulation on an assault weapon and their arguments, to me, just did not ring true as to why there shouldn't be any requirements and something that is so lethal and was designed for military purposes to kill a lot of people quickly."

"I'm at the final months of my time here in Congress, I have no expectation that this will pass while I'm in Congress. What I'm doing is I think, having spent some more time getting a sense of the realities here, that I'm putting forth what I believe is a reasonable piece of legislation that may have a greater opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to support and get legislation that will again, achieve the goal that we all want and minimizing and hopefully eliminating the sort of incidents that we've seen in Buffalo."

Featured Image Photo Credit: Max Faery, WBEN