U.S. Rep. Chris Jacobs, the Republican who ended his re-election bid a week after publicly stating that he would be open to a federal ban on guns like AR-15 rifles, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that he is optimistic about legislative action on guns during the remainder of his time in Congress.
“I really want to be a positive force on this issue so we can get meaningful change,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs was one of a handful of Republicans who supported measures passed last week by the House of Representatives, including raising the age to 21 for buying semi-automatic rifles and prohibiting the sale of ammunition magazines with a capacity of more than 15 rounds.
Jacobs, a representative of Western New York that was rocked last month by the mass shooting in Buffalo that left 10 people dead, also said he’s working in a bipartisan way on legislation on body armor regarding civilians.
“The retired Buffalo police officer who was a security officer at the grocery store was not able to take down that shooter because that shooter had military-grade body armor. I don’t think anybody under the sun should be able to get that. There should be specific reasons — you’re in law enforcement, you’re security guard, so forth,” Jacobs told CNN.
Legislation on body armor recently passed in the New York Legislature.
While the gun issue remains a heated topic in Washington, Jacobs said he is hopeful some of the measures he supports and put forward will come to fruition.
“I’m hopeful as I continue to watch what’s going on in the Senate,” Jacobs said. “The Senate is really where the activity’s going to be that’s going to lead this and I think there’s some real discussions on red flag laws and some other issues that I think could — raising the age — and some others that could really happen.”
Jacobs said the months ahead could be “pivotal months for gun control activity and legislation,” though those months will be his last in his short tenure in Congress. First elected in 2020 in New York’s 27th Congressional District, Jacobs aimed to run this year in the redrawn 23rd District, which covers southern Erie County and the state’s Southern Tier.
After saying he would be open to a federal ban on certain firearms, support for Jacobs’ re-election evaporated from party leaders and he discontinued his bid shortly afterward.
“I just felt that it would be very divisive for the party to pursue running, and also divisive because I thought there was a high likelihood of outside groups coming in and this issue would be the issue of the race and it wouldn’t be a productive dialogue. It would just be running ads and kind of misinformation on issues,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs’ departure has prompted a primary battle to replace him between two Republican heavyweights — former GOP gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino and state GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy.
There is also a special election in August to fill the 23rd District for the rest of the year following the resignation of Rep. Tom Reed in May.