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NY GOP Rep. Jacobs to retire after backing assault weapons ban

New York Congressman Chris Jacobs
Leah Herman/Office of Rep. Chris Jacobs

Republican New York Rep. Chris Jacobs said Friday he will not run for another term in Congress amid backlash over his support for new gun control measures.

Jacobs, who represents suburban Buffalo, told reporters he has decided to retire instead of facing what he said would be “an incredibly divisive election," just days after voicing support for a federal assault weapons ban.

“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," he said, according to footage of his announcement. “Therefore today I am announcing I will not run for the 23rd Congressional District.”

Jacobs said last week that he would vote for an federal assault weapons ban if he had a chance, sparking backlash among state conservatives.

“I want to be completely transparent of where I am in Congress. If an assault weapons ban bill came to the floor that would ban something like an AR-15, I would vote for it,” he said, according to Spectrum News 1.

He also said he believed it was “perfectly reasonable” to raise the age limit to purchase semi-automatic weapons to 21.

Jacobs currently represents New York’s 27th Congressional District, but had been running for the newly redrawn 23rd District, which includes large swaths of new voters.

Gerard Kassar, who chairs the New York State Conservative Party, welcomed Jacobs' decision in a statement, saying the party had been “perplexed” by Jacobs' "recent stance on Second Amendment rights, a position well outside the mainstream of the Republican Party, the Conservative Party, and the voters of NY 23.”

“We agree that it’s the best interest of all three — and of Congressman Jacobs himself — that he forgoes a run for reelection and returns to civilian life. We wish him only the best in his future endeavors,” he said.

Former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino says he will run for the 23rd district seat and has already picked up an endorsement from Elise Stefanik, the number three House Republican from Northern New York.

"I am proud to announce my endorsement of my friend Carl Paladino," Stefanik said in a statement Friday afternoon. "Carl is a job creator and conservative outsider who will provide Western New York and the Southern Tier with strong representation and leadership. Carl will be a tireless fighter for the people of New York in our fight to put America First to save the country."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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