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Heated House Hearing on Assault Weapons

FILE: An AR-15 assault-type rifle lays on the pavement at the scene of a fatal shooting at a Waffle House restaurant, according to police officials, near Nashville, Tennessee. Taken 4.22.2018…

US gun makers earned more than $1 billion from the sale of AR-15-style semiautomatic weapons over the last decade, a House committee said Wednesday as lawmakers grilled manufacturers following a series of grim mass shootings.

Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney said Wednesday "The gun industry has flooded our neighborhoods, our schools and even our churches and synagogues with these deadly weapons and has gotten rich doing it."

The New York Member of Congress added "Even as guns kill more Americans than ever, none of those companies take even basic steps to monitor the deaths and injuries caused by their products. This is beyond irresponsible."

Republican lawmakers on the committee pushed back against their Democratic colleagues.

"Gun manufacturers do not cause violent crime," said Representative James Comer of Kentucky. "Criminals cause violent crime."

"We'll continue to protect the rights of all law-abiding gun owners who safely use, store and carry firearms including the AR-15," Comer said.

According to a report by the House Oversight and Reform Committee, five major gun manufacturers reaped more than one billion dollars from the sale of assault rifles over the last decade.

The Democratic-controlled House is moving forward for the first time in nearly 20 years with a bill that would ban the sale, import, manufacture or transfer of certain types of semi-automatic weapons.

The "Assault Weapons Ban of 2021" would be likely doomed to fail in the Senate, however.

Democrats have 50 seats in the 100-member Senate and 10 Republican votes would be needed to bring the measure to the floor.

Congress passed a 10-year ban on assault rifles and certain high-capacity magazines in 1994.

But lawmakers let it expire in 2004, and sales of those weapons have soared since then.

After the Uvalde massacre, President Joe Biden appealed to lawmakers to again ban assault rifles or at least raise the minimum age for buying them from 18 to 21.

But Republican lawmakers, who see such a restriction as going against the constitutional right to bear arms, have refused to go along with Biden's proposal.