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GOP lawmakers block assault-style gun ban for those under 21

HARRISBURG (AP) — State House Republicans blocked a proposal to prevent those ages 18 to 21 from possessing assault-style rifles on Tuesday by completely changing the bill into a constitutional amendment to allow anyone to carry concealed guns.

It was the second week in a row that Republicans in the Judiciary Committee used their majority to defeat Democratic proposals to address the country’s gun violence plague.

The bill would have prevented those under age 21 from purchasing, possessing or transporting the types of weapons that have often been used to kill and wound people in the mass shootings that have become an epidemic in the United States.

So-called “constitutional carry” has wide support among the Legislature’s Republicans, but a bill to allow it was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in December.

Rep. Joe Hohenstein, D-Philadelphia, called the unfettered right to bear arms a myth that leads to the type of violence seen in the Wild West.

“We can say all we want about how guns will make certain people safer, they also make a whole lot of other people less safe,” he said during the brief hearing in the Capitol. Violence is occurring with legally purchased guns, he noted. “It’s legal purchases of firearms that are turning into the mass shootings that we see.”

The vote was nearly on party lines, with only one Republican — from the Philadelphia suburbs — crossing lines to vote against it.

Democrats have turned to discharge resolutions, a parliamentary maneuver, in an effort to get gun violence bills out of Judiciary, where Chairman Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin, has prevented them from advancing.

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