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NY Rep. Jacobs ends campaign after support for gun ban riled GOP

Says negative campaign is ‘the last thing we need’ after mass shooting

New York GOP Rep. Chris Jacobs ended his bid for a third term after losing party support for saying he’d vote to ban assault rifles.
New York GOP Rep. Chris Jacobs ended his bid for a third term after losing party support for saying he’d vote to ban assault rifles. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Facing a likely challenge in the Republican primary for saying he would support some gun control proposals, New York Rep. Chris Jacobs said Friday he would not seek reelection for a second full term.

“I truly believe I could win this election, but it would be an incredibly divisive election for both the Republican Party and for the people of the 23rd District, many of whom I have not ever represented,” Jacobs said. “The last thing we need is an incredibly negative, half-truth-filled media attack funded by millions of dollars of special interest money coming into our community around this issue of guns and gun violence and gun control.”

After mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas, Jacobs said he would support a ban on assault weapons and limits on high-capacity magazines, among other proposals meant to decrease mass shootings.

“If an assault weapons ban bill came to the floor that would ban something like an AR-15, I would vote for it,” Jacobs said at a news conference last week, according to The Buffalo News. “So I want to be clear: I would vote for it.”

Jacobs’ decision comes as other Republicans were considering challenging him in an August primary. The filing deadline is June 10. His withdrawal shows that supporting gun control remains divisive in many parts of the Republican Party.

Jacobs said he would remain in Congress until the end of the term, meaning that he will likely have a chance to vote on gun control legislation again while in office. House Democrats are expected to bring legislation to the floor next week that would in part raise the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic weapon from 18 to 21 years old and would outlaw high-capacity magazines and bump stocks. House leaders haven’t yet said whether the House would vote on a bill to ban assault weapons. 

Jacobs, who first came to Congress after winning a special election in 2020, currently represents the 27th District. He’d said he would run in the 23rd District when New York adopted a new map drawn by a special master last month. Both districts cover parts of western New York and border on Lake Erie.

He filled the remainder of the term of former Rep. Chris Collins, who resigned after he pleaded guilty to insider trading and was later pardoned by President Donald Trump. 

Jacobs had previously served in state government and had worked as a real estate developer and nonprofit education executive. His first job after college was working as an aide to former New York Republican Rep. Jack F. Kemp. He began his career in politics in 2004 on the Buffalo Board of Education. 

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