Democrats have introduced a new bill, in the latest push to restrict Second Amendment rights, which would impose a sweeping firearms bill, with exceptions that gun rights groups say are so fuzzy that the policy could prohibit nearly all semiautomatic handguns.
The Gas-Operated Semi-Automatic Firearms Exclusion Act (GOSAFE) was introduced on Nov. 29 by a number of Democratic senators and a single independent senator, with no Republicans joining. The National Rifle Association has already panned it as “perhaps the most sweeping gun prohibition bill of the 21st Century.”
The bill would ban firearms that can be fired quickly, along with accessories to increase firing speed. Additionally, it would limit magazine size to have a capacity of less than 10 rounds, in a bid to limit “a firearm’s ability to inflict maximum harm in a short amount of time.”
The bill would require that all semiautomatic rifles about .22 caliber have a permanently fixed magazine capacity of 10 rounds or less while imposing a federal-level ban on all such magazines.
Additionally, the capacity of gas-operated semiautomatic rifles above .22 caliber would be required to be “permanently fixed” meaning that any such firearm above .22 caliber capable of taking a larger capacity magazine would be banned. Further, any modifications to the firearm, such as bump stocks or Glock switches, would be prohibited, and build-it-yourself ghost gun kits would be banned.
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), the bill’s co-sponsor, said in a statement that the measure seeks to keep “those firearms that are inherently dangerous and unusually lethal, designed for maximum harm, out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves or others.”
The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Heinrich, Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Michael Bennett (D-CO), and Angul King (I-ME).
Gun control group Everytown hailed the measure as “innovative,” while decrying what it called the widespread availability in the United States of what it called “weapons of war.”
“We applaud Senator Heinrich for introducing innovative legislation that would regulate assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, which are capable of creating devastating destruction in an instant,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement. “We urge Senator Heinrich’s colleagues to pass this bill before yet another community is forever scarred by someone filled with hate and armed with an AR-15.”
Meanwhile, the NRA called it “perhaps the most sweeping gun prohibition bill of the 21st Century” and a violation of Americans’ constitutional rights, warning that the exemptions in the bill are unclearly drafted and so risk banning all semiautomatic handguns.
“The exemption in the bill for semi-automatic handguns is so poorly written that it wouldn’t apply to many popular self-defense handguns, and, depending on its interpretation, may not apply to any handguns,” the NRA wrote in a note. “Meaning the bill could ban all semi-automatic handguns.”
For example, the bill’s handgun exception applies to “a handgun that … is a single or double action semi-automatic handgun that uses recoil to cycle the action of the handgun,” which the NRA says could be interpreted to “exclude the popular Browning short recoil operating system that is used by essentially all modern handguns of 9MM or larger caliber.”
In general, the NRA said it believes the bill “aims to demoralize and intimidate as many people as possible into giving up their right to own firearms” and that the measure “clearly violates the Second Amendment.”
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