In a recent move stirring controversy among Second Amendment advocates, Senators Angus King and Martin Heinrich introduced the GOSAFE Act, a bill that significantly tightens regulations on semi-automatic firearms resulting in a de facto ban for most individuals. This legislation arises in the wake of the Lewiston, Maine tragedy, where a gunman claimed 18 lives.
Central to the GOSAFE Act is the prohibition of gas-operated semi-automatic firearms and magazines with a capacity exceeding 10 rounds. It also seeks to ban bump stocks and the manufacture of untraceable “ghost guns.”
Proponents argue the GOSAFE Act is a necessary measure to prevent future mass shootings. However, critics rightfully view it as an overreach that infringes on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
Specifically, the GOSAFE Act undermines recent Supreme Court decisions, like the Bruen case, which upheld the constitutional right to bear arms. Critics of the GOSAFE Act argue that such broad restrictions on semi-automatic firearms, which are commonly used for legal purposes such as hunting and self-defense, are unconstitutional.
Many in the pro-gun community point out the ineffectiveness of similar bans in the past, such as the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, had no appreciable effect on crime reduction. They argue that targeting law-abiding citizens does little to address the root causes of gun violence.
A Slippery Slope to More Restrictions
There’s a concern that the GOSAFE Act represents a slippery slope, potentially leading to further restrictive measures and even outright confiscation of firearms from legal owners. This view holds that incremental legislation like the GOSAFE Act can gradually erode gun rights, especially since the bill as drafted would outlaw most commonly owned firearms used for self-defense, hunting and shooting sports.
Texas Gun Rights is rallying gun owners to voice their opposition to the GOSAFE Act, seeing it as a pivotal moment for gun rights in America.
The pro-gun community is encouraged to contact their congressional representatives to express their concerns and preserve their constitutional rights.
Below is a TXGRF’s analysis of the GOSAFE ACT:
The GOSAFE Act specifically targets gas-operated semi-automatic firearms by defining them in detail and lists prohibited firearms in terms of their operational mechanisms rather than their appearances. It also proposes a ban on magazines larger than 10 rounds and prohibits certain modifications, including bump stocks.
The Act does not include a detailed list of specific makes and models of firearms. Instead, it focuses on the broader category of gas-operated semi-automatic firearms and the functional aspects of these weapons. The bill text does not provide a specific list of firearm brands or models but rather describes the types of firearms and components that would fall under the proposed restrictions.
· Changes definitions: The Act defines terms such as “semi-automatic firearm,” “cycle the action,” “gas-operated,” and “large capacity ammunition feeding device” to broadly prohibit scores of commonly owned firearms without specifically mentioning any make or model of firearm (Section 2, 8-23).
· Firearm Determinations: The Act mandates the Attorney General, through the ATF Director, to publish and update a fluid list of prohibited gas-operated semi-automatic firearms (Section 5, 14-16).
· Imposes Restrictions: It proposes restrictions on gas-operated semi-automatic firearms, including bans on certain modifications and the manufacture of “ghost gun” kits (Section 2, 8-23).
· Prohibits Standard Capacity Magazines: The Act seeks to ban magazines larger than 10 rounds (Section 2, 8-23).
· Penalties: It establishes penalties for violations, including fines and imprisonment (Section 4, 16-19).
o Violating sections 922(v) or (w) of the Act (which pertains to the prohibition of certain firearms, devices, or combinations of parts) results in a fine of not more than $5,000, imprisonment for not more than 12 months, or both for each offense.
o If someone in possession of a gas-operated semi-automatic firearm in violation of section 922(v) commits or attempts to commit another Federal offense punishable by imprisonment for more than one year, they shall be fined not more than $250,000, imprisoned for a term not less than 2 years and not more than 10 years, or both.
· Changes Approval Process for New Firearm Designs: It requires new semi-automatic firearms designed after the enactment of the Act to have approval prior to manufacture (Section 5, 14-16).
· Minimal Exemptions Offered: Certain exemptions are included, such as for firearms operating only with .22 caliber rimfire ammunition, single-shot rifles, and specific types of shotguns and handguns (Section 2, Subsection (v)(4).
· Introductory Government Confiscation Program: The Act proposes a voluntary buy-back program for prohibited firearms and standard capacity ammunition feeding devices, using Byrne grants (Section 3).
Read the bill here.