Sen. King Introduces Gun Legislation To Limit High-Capacity Ammunition Devices

AnnMarie Hilton, Maine Morning Star

U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine, an independent, introduced legislation Thursday that is designed to curb mass shootings while protecting Second Amendment rights of those who own a firearm for self-defense or sport, such as hunting.

According to a press release from King’s office, the Gas-Operated Semi-Automatic Firearms Exclusion, or GOSAFE, Act establishes a list of prohibited firearms, prevents unlawful modification of allowed firearms, mandates approval of future gas-operated designs and prevents unlawful firearm self-assembly and manufacturing.

“For years, I have said that rather than using the appearance of these guns to restrict them, we should instead focus on how these weapons actually work and the features that make them especially dangerous,” King said in a statement. “The Gas-Operated Semiautomatic Firearm Exclusion (GOSAFE) Act addresses the lethal capacity weapons like the one used in Lewiston and most of the deadliest mass shootings across the country.”

This comes five weeks after Maine experienced its deadliest mass shooting in state history when 18 people were killed and 13 more were injured after a gunman opened fire in two Lewiston businesses.

The day after the shooting U.S. Rep. Jared Golden said the experience changed his mind about gun safety and called on Congress to ban assault weapons.

What GOSAFE prohibits, permits

People who have weapons for hunting, sporting or self-defense will be able to keep their guns if they fit into one of the exemptions based on maximum ammunition capacity outlined in the bill. The capacity differs depending on the firearm’s class — a rifle, shotgun or handgun — but it must be “permanently fixed,” meaning detachable, high-capacity magazines are not allowed.

Exemptions include:

.22 caliber rimfire or less firearmsBolt action riflesSemi-automatic shotgunsRecoil-operated handgunsAny rifle with a permanently fixed magazine of 10 rounds or lessAny shotgun with a permanently fixed magazine of 10 rounds or lessAny handgun with a permanently fixed magazine of 15 rounds or less

Specifically trying to prevent mass killings, GOSAFE would limit high-capacity ammunition devices to 10 rounds of ammunition or fewer. It also makes bump stocks and Glock switches unlawful.

GOSAFE would also create a voluntary buy-back program, so firearm owners can turn over and receive compensation for non-transferable firearms and magazines defined in the bill.

Maine’s political leaders have a complicated record on gun safety reforms

John Feinblatt, president of national gun violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety, applauded the legislation as “innovative,” according to the release from King. He urged Congress to “pass it before yet another community is forever scarred by someone filled with hate and armed with an AR-15.”

Other senators support this ‘common sense’ gun legislation

King is introducing the GOSAFE Act with Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM). It’s cosponsored by Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).

“As a gun owner, a combat veteran, and the husband of a survivor of gun violence, I know firsthand the damage a firearm can do on the battlefield or at a neighborhood grocery store,” Kelly said.

Kelly’s wife, Gabrielle Giffords, was shot in the head in January 2011 in an assassination attempt and mass shooting as she was holding a constituent meeting at the start of her third term in Congress.

Bennet called it “common sense gun safety legislation to keep weapons of war out of the hands of the wrong people, while respecting responsible gun owners.” The bill demonstrates to children, he said, “that we will not fail them.”

King authored an editorial about the new legislation published in the Portland Press Herald Thursday morning.

“Nothing can bring back the lives of our family and friends, but responsible actions moving forward can reduce the likelihood of such a nightmare happening again in Maine or anywhere else,” King said in the release.

Maine Morning Star is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Maine Morning Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Lauren McCauley for questions: Follow Maine Morning Star on Facebook and Twitter.

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