Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Jacobs made a choice following back-to-back mass shootings in the spring, including one that left ten people dead at a grocery not far from his suburban Buffalo home.
He pledged to people in his conservative congressional district that he would support an assault weapons ban if it came up for discussion on the House floor.
Jacobs said, “I could have said nothing.” He could have easily won the Republican primary if he had remained silent. However, after 31 fatalities in 10 days, including the murder of 19 children at a school in Uvalde, Texas, he felt compelled to take a stand in public.
When thinking about returning home to his kids after those 19 youngsters died, Jacobs said, “having two young children just — you have a new perspective.”
A week later, another choice was made. Republicans began to abandon Jacobs in droves, and he made the decision to not run for reelection.
His career’s end is another indicator of how divided Congress has become, with Jacobs stating that “If you veer from a party standpoint, you are obliterated.”
In an interview with The Associated Press, he stated that “there are a lot of single-issue supporters in the Republican Party on this subject, and on the other side, abortion.”
“I believe it is crucial to consider the use of large tents for gatherings. And I simply don’t think that’s healthy right now because it’s really strident on both sides,” he remarked. There are many disgruntled members of Congress since not enough is being accomplished because of the divided environment.
However, if there is any remorse for the choice that abruptly ended his political career, it is not evident. The Republican serving his first full term in Congress has increased his support for the restriction of some high-powered rifles as he prepares to leave office by recommending a licencing process for those who wish to purchase them.
“The majority of people—99%—are really responsible gun owners. Unfortunately, claiming that only 1% of people (are not) brings little consolation to those who lost a loved one in Buffalo or in one of these shooting sprees, added Jacobs.
Before purchasing a “semi-automatic assault weapon,” customers would have to pass an FBI background check, complete a safety course, and provide their fingerprints. There are exceptions, such as those for existing owners, serving members of the armed forces, and law enforcement officials.
The procedures would resemble those that were necessary for the hundreds of handgun licences that Jacobs granted during his five years as the Erie County clerk, a procedure that he believes strikes a fair balance between Second Amendment rights and responsible gun ownership.
Many of Jacobs’ previous backers consider his current position to be a betrayal.
Gerard Kassar, the leader of the state’s Conservative Party, declared, “It’s just not really tolerable.”
According to Kassar, the Second Amendment in some sections of upstate New York “represents more than simply the subject of firearms and is a very, very big single issue.” It stands for the freedom and constitutionalists issues, respectively. It stands for libertarians’ viewpoint.
According to a tweet from Donald Trump Jr., Jacobs “caved to the gun-grabbers.”
Jacobs has so far benefited from his reputation as a moderate. In the highly Democratic county capital of Buffalo, he became the first Republican to be elected Erie County Clerk in 40 years and was welcomed onto the school board.
When he won a special election to Congress in June 2020 with support from President Donald Trump, he was serving in the state Senate.
Jacobs, who was supported by the National Rifle Association and opposed Trump’s impeachment in Congress, has been a vocal supporter of finishing the wall that the previous administration started along the southern border.
But his disagreement with the pro-gun crowd started after a young gunman, 18, opened fire at a Tops Friendly Market not far from where his real estate development company is headquartered, killing 10 Black people and injuring three more.
He was one of just two Republicans to back the measure, which had no chance of passing the U.S. Senate when the House voted in July to outlaw certain semi-automatic weapons for the first time since 2004.
Jacobs would have been competing in a freshly formed district that was much more conservative than the one he now serves in the suburbs and rural regions around Buffalo if he had chosen to run for reelection.
He is mostly unknown in the six new, primarily rural counties near the Pennsylvania border that made up the new region.
Obviously, if I had run, and I believed I might have succeeded, “there would have been outside money galore,” said Jacobs. “And I simply didn’t think it was healthy for the district or the party. I just concluded it was not the proper thing to do.”
Nick Langworthy, the leader of the state’s Republican committee, finally prevailed in the primary in the new district and will be the overwhelming favourite to defeat Democrat Max Della Pia in November. Langworthy intervened after claiming that Jacobs’ support for a ban on semi-automatic weapons caught him off guard.
At the time, he said that by supporting the Democratic position on gun control, “everyone was caught quite flat-footed.”
Chris Grant, the campaign’s spokeswoman, told the AP on Tuesday that Langworthy “would not support an assault weapons prohibition or any other legislation that limits the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans and has proved ineffectual.”
The co-founder of a progressive organisation in Jacobs’ current district, Andrea Nikischer, has long lambasted the Republican for his political views and pro-Trump votes. He had changed his mind on firearms, therefore she was upset by his choice to step down from office.
She said, “I’m sad he didn’t run. He could have moved his party in a more constructive direction, and I believe it would have been a really significant conversation. I wish he had utilised his great influence as the incumbent to further this conversation within his own party.
With the election only a few weeks away, Jacobs has not yet secured support for his assault weapon licencing plan and doesn’t anticipate doing so.
However, he expressed optimism that greater support may materialise after November.
He declared, “I’m going to put something forth, and I hope someone grabs it.”
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