Democrats introducing bill regulating mechanisms of rapid-firing weapons

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Sens. Angus King (I-Maine) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced a bill Thursday to regulate firearms by outlawing weapons with a magazine capacity over 10 rounds, among other measures aimed at increasing gun control.

The Gas-Operated Semi-Automatic Firearms Exclusion Act (GOSAFE) comes a month after a gunman killed 18 people in a mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, not far from where King lives.

The act “addresses the lethal capacity weapons like the one used in Lewiston and most of the deadliest mass shootings across the country,” King said in a statement. “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.”

The bill, which Heinrich began drafting in 2017, his office said, is cosponsored by Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).

Specifically, the GOSAFE Act targets firearms mechanisms, instead of implementing restrictions based on how firearms look. It places a ban on magazines larger than 10 rounds, bans modifications like bump stocks and bans the manufacture of ghost gun kits — build-at-home firearms without serial numbers.

“I firmly believe we must uphold the laws that protect safe and responsible gun ownership,” Heinrich said in a statement. “This bill achieves that, while taking steps to get 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.”

It would also create a voluntary gun buy-back program to remove violating firearms from circulation.

“We’re taking a leap here and doing something that we think is absolutely necessary and will work,” King said in an MSNBC interview Thursday. “The fundamental is to really get at these high-capacity magazines on these guns that make them so dangerous because when you have to stop to reload, that’s when you can intervene in a shooting.”

The Lewiston shooting jump-started conversations about gun control, with some members of Congress explicitly calling for the reintroduction of an assault weapons ban.

“The time has now come for me to take responsibility for this failure, which is why I now call on the United States Congress to ban assault rifles, like the one used by the sick perpetrator of this mass killing in my hometown of Lewiston, Maine,” Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine), who represents Lewiston, said last month.

Efforts to pass gun control in Congress have consistently hit walls in recent years as conservatives shy away from supporting measures that some believe could infringe on Second Amendment rights.

Previous legislation to ban bump stocks and ghost guns has been struck down by federal courts, but face appeals.

A Trump-era ban on bump stocks was struck down by a federal appeals court in January. The case is expected to be decided by the Supreme Court. A Biden administration rule banning ghost guns was thrown out by an appeals court this month.

Updated 4:14 p.m.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.