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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the Capitol, in Washington, on July 21.J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote Friday on a bill banning assault-style weapons, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to lawmakers.

The legislation, which Pelosi, a Democrat, called a “crucial step in our ongoing fight against the deadly epidemic of gun violence in our nation,” faces a tough road in the narrowly divided U.S. Senate, where Republicans overwhelmingly oppose such a ban and have the power to block legislation.

The latest action on guns comes after mass shootings in May at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, as well as at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois. The shootings claimed a total 38 lives and reignited a long-running national debate over guns and the constitutional protection of the right to keep and bear arms.

A vote on the assault-style weapons bill had initially been planned for earlier this week, but was delayed as Democrats discussed parallel legislation increasing funding for police, in a lifeline to vulnerable moderate Democrats in the House ahead of November’s general election.

Pelosi did not mention the police funding bill in her letter, saying only that “immense progress in our discussions” has been made on the full package of public safety bills and that that work was continuing.

A law banning assault-style weapons took effect in 1994, but expired 10 years later, and several attempts to bring it back have so far failed.

That ban resulted in a significant decrease in mass shootings, according to a 2021 study by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Last month, Republicans in Congress objected to a bill raising the minimum age for buying semi-automatic assault-style weapons to 21 from 18, but the legislation was passed and signed into law by Democratic President Joe Biden.

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