Congressman Ends Reelection Bid after Backing Assault Weapons Ban

Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-NY) announced on Friday that he would no longer be running for reelection, after facing intense backlash for supporting gun control measures being proposed by Democratic lawmakers.

During a press conference a week prior, Jacobs had been frank about his support for harsher gun control. “I want to be completely transparent of where I am in Congress,” he said. “If an assault weapons ban bill came to the floor that would ban something like an AR-15, I would vote for it.”

He also supported raising the legal age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21 as a “perfectly reasonable” proposal, and planned to introduce a bill banning body armor for civilians.

Jacob’s comments received immediate pushback, both from Republican elected officials and conservative voters in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. Jacobs said that every Republican elected official that had previously endorsed him “withdrew their endorsement,” and that “most” of the party officials who had backed him also withdrew their support.

“And so obviously, this was not well received by the Republican base,” Jacobs said.

During the press conference he held on Friday, Jacobs touted his belief that it would have still been possible for him to win his reelection campaign. “But it would be an incredibly divisive election for both the Republican Party and for the people of the 23rd District,” he quickly added.

Many Republicans welcomed the announcement of Jacobs’ retirement, including New York State Conservative Party Chairman Gerard Kassar, who said that it was in the “best interest” of the party that Jacobs “forgoes a run for reelection and returns to civilian life.”

The controversy over Jacobs’ gun control comments comes as Democrats in Congress make a push for new firearm restrictions following mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Texas. House Democrats have introduced a package of their long-awaited gun-control legislation, which they’ve named the “Protecting Our Kids Act,” a group of eight bills which would raise the legal purchasing age for semi-automatic rifles, ban high-capacity magazines and more.

President Biden also made comments in support of new gun control measures.