The goal of a recent Senate bill is to avoid mass shootings by going back almost a hundred years for lawful gun owners.
According to The Hill, Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and independent Sen. Angus King of Maine, who caucuses with Democrats, proposed the Gas-Operated Semi-Automatic Firearms Exclusion Act on Thursday.
King stated that the bill was a reaction to the October killings of eighteen individuals in Lewiston, Maine.
“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 release on his website.
Heinrich added that the bill addresses firearms that shouldn’t be there while also defending gun rights.
“I firmly believe we must uphold the laws that protect safe and responsible gun ownership. 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,” he said.
According to King’s press release, his bill would ban “future gas-operated designs that are approved before manufacture,” prevent illegal modifications of guns that the law permits, create a list of prohibited firearms, and outlaw “ghost guns,” or homemade weapons that are manufactured at home without first visiting a store or undergoing background checks.
He said his bill “addresses the lethal capacity weapons like the one used in Lewiston and most of the deadliest mass shootings across the country.”
“The key is the lethality of the weapon,” King said, according to NewsCenterMaine. “How do you make it less dangerous? Not what it looks like, but how do you make it less dangerous?
“Two people charged the shooter in Lewiston, but he killed them both because he didn’t have to stop and reload,” King said, speaking of gunman Robert Card, according to the Portland Press-Herald.
The plan was criticized for violating Americans’ Second Amendment rights and would need to pass both the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House to become law.
“This legislation blatantly violates the U.S. Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court rulings by banning the very types of firearms and magazines most often utilized by Americans for defending themselves and their families,” Randy Kozuch, executive director of the NRA’s legislative arm, said in a statement.
“This bill unjustly and improperly places the full burden of the law on law-abiding residents, while doing nothing to take guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals. The NRA opposes this legislation and will fight to protect the constitutional freedoms of all law-abiding Americans,” he said.
It’s nearly a century too late, according to Republican state representative Donald Ardell, for King to stop the spread of semi-automatic firearms.
Around the turn of the 20th century, semi-automatic rifles and handguns were invented, according to the NRA-affiliated website Americas First Freedom.
“Semi-automatic arms have been commercially available in the U.S. for well over a century, and standard-capacity magazines are commonly owned,” Ardell said, according to the Press-Herald.
“Senator King’s bill, which would limit arms to a certain design and firearm magazines to a specific, arbitrary capacity, would clearly violate the people’s civil rights,” he said.
The bill “is openly defiant of the rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. There is no path forward for legislation of this nature that would deprive law-abiding citizens the ability to lawfully possess the firearm of their choosing and the full spectrum of their Second Amendment rights,” Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said, according to Guns America.
According to King’s press release, his plan “protects Americans’ constitutional right to own a gun based on the established use of firearms for hunting, sporting, or self-defense.”
Firearms chambered in.22-caliber or smaller, bolt-action rifles, semi-automatic shotguns, recoil-operated pistols, and rifles and shotguns with a permanently fixed magazine of 10 rounds or less as well as handguns with a permanently fixed magazine of 15 rounds or fewer, are among the weapons that are excluded from the law.
King’s release said the bill “will force would-be mass shooters to reload their guns more frequently — giving people time to flee and law enforcement time to arrive on the scene – while also maintaining law enforcement access to regulated firearms, so law enforcement continues to have the tools they need to respond to a mass shooting event.”