Republican who backed assault rifle ban ends re-election campaign

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Rep. Chris Jacobs (RN.Y.) announced he would suspend his re-election campaign on Friday after coming under pressure from his party to step down for backing gun reforms as a solution to stem the wave of mass shootings in the country in recent weeks.

Jacobs was born and raised in Buffalo, a city that became the scene of a racially charged shooting last month that left 10 people dead at a local grocery store.

At a news conference in his district last week, a few miles from Buffalo, Jacobs took an unprecedented step for a National Rifle Association-endorsed Republican by announcing he would vote with Democrats to ban firearms. assault, limiting high-capacity magazines, raising the age to buy a gun to 21, and banning civilians from acquiring military-style armor.

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Jacobs’ position amid a trio of mass shootings over the past week has proven costly. Just seven days later, he said it would be best to put his re-election campaign on hold in a district that had become more trusted by the GOP after the redistricting.

“I really believed I could win this election, but it would be an incredibly divisive election for both the Republican Party and the people of the 23rd District, many of whom I never represented,” he said. at a press conference on Friday. “The last thing we need is an incredibly negative media attack, filled with half-truths, funded by millions of spent dollars of special interest money entering our gun and gun violence community and gun control.”

The first-term congressman, who was elected in a special election in June 2020, will serve the remainder of his term as a representative from New York’s 27th congressional district. He was seeking re-election in the 23rd district after the 27th was eliminated due to redistricting.

Jacobs’ stunning decision to step down rather than seek re-election proves there is almost no room in the Republican Party for members who support banning assault weapons or limiting high-capacity magazines .

Although a bipartisan group of senators are negotiating modest changes to gun laws in the wake of the Texas elementary school shooting, Jacobs’ quick dismissal is an indication of Republicans’ little appetite for changing the law. use of firearms.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (RN.Y.), the GOP No. 3 House leader, quickly announced her endorsement of Carl Paladino to replace Jacobs without mentioning the two politicians’ views on guns.

“Carl is a job creator and a conservative underdog who will provide Western New York and the South End with strong representation and leadership. Carl will be a tireless fighter for the people of New York in our fight to put America first to save the country,” she said in a statement.

In an interview with the Buffalo News last week, Jacobs admitted he had a change of heart after an 18-year-old used an assault weapon to shoot 13 people at a Tops Friendly Markets in his town. native. Of the 13 people shot, 11 were black.

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“I hope I’ve been sympathetic when I’ve read and heard of previous incidents like this that have happened over the years, but I guess there’s just something markedly different when it happens in your city, for the people you know,” he said. “It was a profoundly defining event for me.”

The ensuing shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed, shook him even more.

“Being a father and having young kids and visualizing what those parents are going through and, I guess, being able to feel it more personally has definitely had an impact as well,” Jacobs told the Buffalo News.

His new post was too much for Republicans to handle, with many calling him a Democrat for taking a stance that strayed far from party norms.

“‘Republican’ @RepJacobs already given in to gun thieves whose proposals will do nothing to protect our families and our children from criminals and murderers. He knows it, but he can’t help but get some rave headlines from the mainstream media,” said Donald Trump Jr. tweeted Sunday.

Jacobs told the Buffalo News on Friday that the writing was on the wall for him after “every elected Republican (official) who endorsed me withdrew their endorsement.” He also alleged that someone had given out his phone number, making him the recipient of “an immense amount of calls and texts urging me to quit the race” which he described as non-threatening.

“And so obviously it hasn’t gone down well with the Republican base,” he said.

His announcement came a day after President Biden urged Republicans in Congress to end their decade-long blockade against support for gun reform votes.

“We can no longer disappoint the American people,” President Biden said June 2 during a briefing to the nation on his goals for legislation to curb mass shootings. (Video: Blair Guild/The Washington Post)

“How much more carnage are we willing to accept? Biden asked during an evening speech Thursday.

House Democrats are expected to vote on several gun review proposals when they return to Washington next week, including moves to raise the purchase age for a semi-automatic rifle and ban large-scale magazines. ability, which Jacobs said he supports. However, it is unclear whether he would vote alongside Democrats on those proposals.

While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) announced her intention for committees to hold hearings on the assault weapons ban, her likelihood of getting a vote remains uncertain as the issue also divides democrats. A number of reelection-vulnerable Democrats have expressed reservations about voting on such a proposal — even though several support it — because the issue has become so politically toxic.

The bipartisan group of senators continues to negotiate, but those changes likely won’t include a ban on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, as that’s a poison pill for many Republicans around the table. Negotiators are considering overhauls to address mental health issues, expand background checks and pass red flag laws that would allow law enforcement and family members to remove firearms from people who constitute a threat to themselves or others.


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