Reps. Hinson and Miller-Meeks vote against raising the age to buy semiautomatic rifles, Red Flag laws and other gun safety measures

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks takes a photo with Rep. Ashley Hinson in January 2022. — via Hinson on Twitter

On Wednesday, members of the Oversight and Reform Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives watched a video in which Miah Cerrillo described the mass shooting that killed 19 of her classmates and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

“He shot my friend that was next to me,” she said in a quiet voice. “And I thought he would come back to the room, so I grabbed her blood and I put it all over me.”

The 11-year-old covered herself in blood in hopes of convincing Salvador Ramos he had already shot her.

The week before, Ramos had turned 18 and in the following days purchased two semiautomatic rifles on credit. On May 24, he committed the mass murder at Robb Elementary.

Dr. Roy Guerro of Uvalde told the committee about being in the emergency room as victims were brought in, including two children “whose bodies had been pulverized by bullets fired at them, decapitated, whose flesh had been ripped apart, that the only clue as to their identities was the blood-spattered cartoon clothes still clinging to them.”

The committee also heard from people affected by the mass shooting committed by a white supremacist at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York on May 14. Payton Gendron used a semiautomatic rifle to murder 10 people and severely wound three others.

“Let me paint a picture for you: My son Zaire has a hole in the right side of his neck, two on his back and another on his left leg, caused by an exploding bullet from an AR-15,” Zeneta Everhart, whose son was one of the three wounded survivors, told the committee. “I want you to picture that exact scenario for one of your children. This should not be your story or mine.”

Like Ramos, Gendron is 18 years old. Like Ramos, Gendron was able to legally purchase the semiautomatic rifle he used to commit mass murder.

Just hours after members of Congress listened to all this testimony, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Rep. Ashley Hinson joined their fellow Republicans in voting against the Protect Our Kids Act, a bill that would raise the legal age to buy most semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21. Iowa’s lone Democrat in Congress, Rep. Cindy Axne, voted for it.

The bill would also ban magazines that hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition.

“There is no reason why any civilian in this country needs an AR-15-style assault weapon or a high-capacity magazine,” Rep. Diana DeGette, the New York Democrat who proposed the limit on magazine size said in a statement.

Both Ramos and Gendron used high-capacity magazines to murder and injure their victims. According to research published by Everytown, a nonprofit that advocates for gun law reform, high-capacity magazines were used in 59 percent of the mass shootings in America between 2008 and 2019, increasing the number of dead and injured in each shooting.

Other provisions in the Protecting Our Kids Act “would crack down on gun trafficking, create new safe-storage requirements for gun owners, and codify executive orders that ban untraceable ‘ghost guns’ as well as ‘bump stock’ devices that allow a semiautomatic rifle to mimic machine-gun fire,” the Washington Post reported.

The bill passed the House on Wednesday, 223-204, almost entirely along party lines. Only five Republicans voted for the bill. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania is the only one of those Republicans running for reelection. The other four are retiring this year.

Hinson, whose district includes Linn County and most of northeastern forward, issued a statement on Wednesday denouncing the bill to raise the age for buying most automatic rifle to the same age as buying liquor (and still four years below the age threshold for renting a car), limit magazines to 15 bullets and take other basic steps Republican have blocked for decades as “legislation that will do little to stop violence, but will target law-abiding citizens and violate our Second Amendment rights.”

Hinson said she would support a bill by a North Carolina Republican that has been outlined but not yet actually introduced. The bill largely focuses on increasing the number of police officers in schools.

Miller-Meeks, who won her seat representing Johnson County by other parts of eastern Iowa by six votes in 2020, has not explained why she voted against the Protecting Our Kids Act. On Wednesday, while other members of the House were listening to the testimony of the mass shooting victims and their families, Miller-Meeks introduced a bill, the Securing Our Schools Act.

The bill does not mention guns, but instead calls for “Security training of personnel and students,” as well as “Reinforcing or replacing classroom doors, locks, or window panel” and “Constructing fencing, bollards, planters, curbs, walls, or any other entry control measure to create a single point of entry to the campus.”

“We need to give schools more resources to keep our students safe,” Miller-Meeks said in a statement about her bill.

On Thursday, the House held another vote on a gun-related bill, one creating a standard “red flag” law. It would allow family members and law enforcement officers to obtain an order from a judge that temporarily removes the firearms of someone considered a risk to themselves (guns are by far the most common means of suicide in the United States) or others.

The bill passed 224-202. The only Republicans to vote for the bill were the same five who voted for the Protecting Our Kids Act. Hinson and Miller-Meeks opposed the bill; Axne supported it.

Nineteen states have Red Flag laws. Iowa is not one of those states.