- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Gun control legislation proposed Tuesday by Democrats would make it illegal to transfer a machine gun or semi-automatic weapon to anyone under the age of 16.

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey and Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego introduced the Help End Assault Rifle Tragedies Act, or HEART Act, at an event in Washington where they were joined by the family of Charles Vacca, a firearms instructor who was fatally shot in 2014 while legally teaching a 9-year-old girl how to fire an Uzi.

“Even at a shooting age and under professional guidance, a semi-automatic rifle in a child’s hands is a tragedy waiting to happen,” Mr. Markey said. “These weapons are not toys and children should not be allowed to play with them. They are simply too powerful and too difficult for a child to control.”

If approved, the HEART Act would explicitly prohibit anyone from transferring a machine gun or semi-automatic weapon to a child under the age of 16.

“Not at a gun range, not at a gun show, not while hunting, not anywhere, anytime,” Mr. Markey said.

The House bill has so far garnered the support of fellow Democrats including Reps. Mike Honda of California, Barbara Lee of California, Robin Kelly of Illinois and Michael Capuano and Katherine Clark of Massachusetts.

“Our bill has a premise that no reasonable person can dispute: assault weapons are weapons of war and should not be allowed in the hands of children,” Mr. Markey said Tuesday.

Roughly 33,000 Americans die annually as a result of gun violence, and children residing within the United States are nine times more likely to be killed by an accidental shooting that in any other industrialized nation, Mr. Markey said.

“Right now we live in a country where a suspected terrorist can go online to Instagram and buy and find an assault weapon that could be handed to a child at a gun range for shooting practice,” he said. “There is no other nation in the world where that is allowed to happen.”

Vacca’s children applauded the lawmakers’ efforts Tuesday and asked supporters to sign a petition urging Congress to advance the proposal.

“This legislation isn’t about violating anyone’s Second Amendment right,” Mr. Gallego said. “It’s about upholding the principle that the founders would surely support, and that the [National Rifle Association] claims to support, which is responsible gun ownership.”

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