A New York Republican who was endorsed by the National Rife Association just two years ago announced Friday he would no longer seek re-election, saying his recent support for gun control had effectively eliminated any chance of winning the GOP primary.
Rep. Chris Jacobs publicly bucked his party last week when he said he would back an assault weapons ban bill if it came to the House floor for a vote. On Friday, he said that new stance had cost him his political career in the Republican Party.
“If you stray from a party position, you are annihilated,” Jacobs said. “For the Republicans, it became pretty apparent to me over the last week that that issue is gun control — any gun control.”
The announcement that Jacobs was dropping out of the Aug. 23 primary came one week after he said he'd changed his position on gun control in the wake of mass shootings at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
He said Friday those shootings made him realize a small percentage of people, when armed weapons like an AR-15, "can become killing machines.”
Jacobs, whose congressional district includes Buffalo suburbs, said he intends to support a legislative gun package that was advanced by the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. It is slated for a floor vote next week.
“I do not believe that individuals need magazines of 50 or 60 rounds, or more,” Jacobs said. “Capacity limits should be limited at a minimum if we cannot achieve an assault weapon ban.”
The legislative package also includes raising the age to buy a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21, a provision Jacobs said was “perfectly reasonable.”
Jacobs, who has described his district as a rural community where gun and shooting clubs are an integral part of life, faced immediate backlash from Republicans last week after announcing his new position.
Donald Trump Jr. accused him of caving to "gun-grabbers," while others called him a "RINO," an acronym for Republican In Name Only.
"This requirement of 100 percent fealty or else is not good for our democracy, and certainly is one reason not much gets done in Washington, D.C.," Jacobs said Friday.
“I knew that there was going to be a high level of backlash, but look, if you’re not going to take a stand on this I don't know what you're going to take a stand on,” he added.