Rep. Chris Jacobs (RN.Y.) has come out in favor of an assault weapons ban after two high-profile mass shootings in his hometown of Buffalo, NY, and in Uvalde, Texas, claimed more than two dozen lives in total.
Jacobs said at a press conference Friday that if a bill to ban AR-15-style weapons came to the House floor, he would vote in favor. He added that he would also back raising the required age for certain gun sales to 21, imposing a federal limit on guns’ magazine capacity and banning the sale of body armor to the public.
Jacobs received an endorsement from the National Rifle Association during his 2020 congressional run, at the time saying he was honored to receive the endorsement and vowing to serve as an “ally and fighter” for gun owners in western New York.
He said in an interview with The Buffalo News on Friday that he reconsidered his position on guns following the two mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde. Jacobs represents New York’s 27th congressional district, which contains suburbs outside Buffalo though not the city itself. He is currently running in the state’s 23rd district after New York’s decennial redistricting process eliminated the 27th.
“I believe it’s important to be transparent on my views on this, and certainly what has happened here in our community, an unprecedented massacre,” Jacobs said at the press conference.
He said he studied the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that Congress passed in 1994 and concluded “it was not as effective as you’d think,” but the most effective part was its capacity limit on guns’ magazines. The ban restricted certain semiautomatic weapons for 10 years until it expired in 2004 without congressional renewal. Studies have found that mass shooting deaths declined while the law was active, but evidence is uncertain on the extent to which the ban contributed, according to Politifact.
Jacobs said there is not currently a bill to ban assault weapons in the House and he does not expect Democrats to have the political will to introduce one, but he would support it if it were introduced. He said although he would support banning the sale of such weapons, he is not in favor of confiscating those that people already own.
He said it’s “perfectly reasonable” for the age limit for buying at least high-capacity, semi-automatic weapons to be 21, similar to the threshold for purchasing alcohol.
He also said he plans to introduce a bill to ban the sale of body armor to individuals who are not in law enforcement, security or “fields that it makes sense.” The gunman at the Buffalo supermarket earlier this month wore body armor, apparently protecting him from a security guard’s fire.
Jacobs acknowledged the change in his position could be controversial and cause political challenges for him as he runs for reelection in a strongly conservative district.