Boston Globe Bills Sweeping Gun Ban as Attempt at ‘Middle Ground’ – Bearing Arms

Boston Globe Bills Sweeping Gun Ban as Attempt at ‘Middle Ground’ – Bearing Arms

You don’t even need to read the text of the “GOSAFE Act” to know that it’s not some effort at compromise or a watered-down version of the bans on so-called assault weapons that we’ve seen in the past. All you have to do is look at how the gun control lobby has responded to the introduction of the bill from Sens. Martin Heinrich and Angus King.

Everytown for Gun Safety praised the bill as “innovative legislation that would regulate assault weapons and high-capacity magazines”, while Giffords (whose co-founder Mark Kelly is another Senate sponsor) declared, “the American people are crying out for Congress to put forth innovative ideas that save lives, and Senator Heinrich has answered the call by introducing the Gas-Operated Semi-Automatic Firearms Exclusion Act to keep deadly devices out of the wrong hands.”

Every major gun control group, including Brady, Moms Demand Action, and March for Our Lives has come out in favor of the legislation, which makes the framing of the bill by the Boston Globe downright laughable. According to the paper, the bill banning the sale and production of all gas-operated centerfire semi-automatic rifles going forward (and “large capacity magazines” as well) unless they use fixed magazines is an attempt by the senators to find a “middle ground” on the issue.

Limiting their lethality is the task King and Senator Martin Heinrich, Democrat of New Mexico, set for themselves several years ago and formally announced in the aftermath of the mass shooting that claimed 18 lives in Lewiston.

They are not backing a ban on assault-style weapons, but the Senate duo is proposing a marked change.

“The heart of it is a fixed, internal magazine of 10 bullets that is permanent,” King said in an interview. “You can’t have a detachable magazine.”

That would mean public shooters could fire only 11 shots — the cartridge in the chamber and the 10 in the magazine — before being forced to reload. That matters because, as Mark Collins, director of federal policy at Brady, the national anti-gun-violence group, explains, in many mass shootings the carnage has been worse because the shooter had a high-capacity magazine or could reload in an instant by inserting a new one. King said that the Lewiston shooter had a second, detachable high-capacity magazine taped to the first, and when the first was empty, simply flipped the magazines over to reload.

The effort, King said, is to find a constitutionally comfortable place where reasonable lawmakers hoping to curb the scourge of gun violence can come together.

“We really have worked hard to make it something that has a shot at getting passed but also will pass constitutional muster,” he said, noting that former Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, author of the Heller decision declaring that the Second Amendment imparted a right to firearms ownership, also expressly stated that the Second Amendment right “is not unlimited.” Scalia, a philosophical originalist who long anchored the court’s conservative wing, further noted that legal scholars, commentators, and courts had long “explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” He also wrote approving of “the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’ ”

And there’s nothing unusual about modern sporting rifles or the ability to accept a detachable magazine. Gas-operated semi-automatic rifles are in common use (there are more of them in private hands than Ford F-150 trucks on the road), and detachable magazines are even more common. Both the rifles and magazines that would be prohibited by the GOSAFE Act are used far more often for law-abiding purposes than in violent crimes, and there are no longstanding laws or regulations at the time of the Founding for King to point to that offer any sort of analogue to the GOSAFE Act, so it’s wishful thinking on the part of King that this ban would comport with the text, history, and tradition test laid out by the Supreme Court in Bruen.

Globe columnist Scott Lehigh also makes a big deal out of the grandfather clause that’s currently included in the GOSAFE Act, declaring the “legislation is not, in the favorite fright-mongering phrase of the gun zealots, tantamount to ‘gun-grabbing.’”

While current owners may be permitted to keep possession of their rifles and magazines for now, we’ve all seen how those grandfather clauses can be broken. California and New Jersey, for instance, removed the grandfather clause on possession of “large capacity” magazines years after their mag bans were first enshrined into law, and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has called for the state’s grandfather clause for “assault weapons” to be rescinded. A grandfather clause is simply a promise by a politician, and there’s no reason to have any faith whatsoever that the promise would be kept going forward.

The GOSAFE Act isn’t moderate. It’s not a compromise. It’s a semi-auto ban wrapped up in new packaging, and despite King’s assertions to the contrary, there’s no way it comports with the Constitution or the guarantees of the Second Amendment that our right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

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