The Most-Tyrannical Ban Yet

posted on January 16, 2024
Randy Kozuch

Gun control is not an effort to regulate firearms to promote public safety. Instead, it is a long-term project to disarm Americans and eliminate the right to self-defense. That has never been more blatant or undeniable than it is now. Even as the U.S. Supreme Court has underscored the Second Amendment’s import and scope, firearm prohibitionists have defiantly launched their most-vindictive schemes to suppress gun ownership. There is no better example of this than the deceptively named GOSAFE Act of 2023, spearheaded by Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Angus King, an independent from Maine who generally votes with Democrats. The bill is nothing short of an attempt to ban modern firearms.

Everytown for Gun Safety (billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s gun-ban organization) praised the bill’s sponsors for “introducing innovative legislation that would regulate assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.” Here, the adjective “innovative” is both telling and—for gun-control proponents—fatal. It’s telling, because this isn’t the usual “assault weapons” ban promoted since the 1980s. It’s fatal, because the Supreme Court clarified in 2022 that a longstanding and widely accepted historical pedigree is necessary for a gun-control law to survive Second Amendment scrutiny. This bill has no precedent in American law.

Before examining GOSAFE’s particulars, it’s worth re-emphasizing how unhinged gun controllers’ obsession with “assault weapons” is in the first place. However they define that term, all gun-control advocates currently agree that the quintessential “assault weapon” is now considered to be the AR-15—although when the intentionally malleable term was invented, anti-gun extremists more often used semi-automatic versions of the AK-47 as the “assault weapon” bogeyman. They now characterize the AR-15 as a menacing “weapon of war” that they claim is intentionally marketed to angry, unstable individuals. They insist it is the “weapon of choice” for mass mayhem, with “no place in civilized society.”

In fact, the AR-15 is not just one of America’s most-popular firearms, it is arguably one of its most-popular consumer products, period. Even the anti-gun Washington Post acknowledged, “1 in 20 U.S. adults owns at least one AR-15.” That same Post article admitted that roughly 20 million AR-15-pattern guns are already in circulation in the United States.

Yet this overwhelming popularity has not translated into an epidemic of AR-15-related crime. Rifles of any sort are the guns most infrequently used in homicides, according to FBI statistics. Those statistics show knives and even hands and feet are involved in more murders, year after year.

It is indisputable that the vast majority of people who own AR-15s and other supposed “assault weapons” use them responsibly and for legitimate purposes. This was also underscored by the Post report, which commissioned a poll that found “[s]elf-defense was the most popular reason for owning an AR-15.” Calling them an “assault weapon” is not just inaccurate, it is the opposite of their true character as a gun Americans overwhelmingly choose for defense against unlawful assaults. The Supreme Court has made clear, moreover, that such defensive purposes are at the core of the Second Amendment’s protection.

Prior attempts to ban “assault weapons” have focused on semi-automatic long guns with detachable magazines and one or more alleged “military-style” features, such as pistol grips, flash suppressors or adjustable stocks. The “innovative” approach taken by the GOSAFE Act, by contrast, is simply to ban “gas-operated semi-automatic firearms” as a class, subject to various (sometimes unintelligible) exceptions. The bill also bans magazines with a capacity of 11 rounds or greater, as well as any part or accessory that could transform a non-banned gun into a banned gun or that “materially increases” a gun’s “rate of fire.”

Because it is impossible to determine the bill’s scope or meaning on its face, it would empower the government (ATF, specifically) to determine not only what guns the bill bans retrospectively, but also what “semi-automatic” firearms could be marketed to “civilians” in the first place. The U.S. government has never claimed such sweeping authority over the private firearms market. But the bill goes even further, allowing gun-control activists to file lawsuits to have even government-approved firearms banned by court decree.

Illustrating the bill’s true priorities, it would additionally allow federal grants that currently fund law-enforcement agencies with crime-fighting efforts to be repurposed into bribing Americans to surrender newly banned guns to the government.

In short, the GOSAFE Act would empower the government, gun-control activists and politically minded judges to determine what sort of repeating firearms could be made, imported, sold and possessed in America, and to imprison anyone who ran afoul of their dictates. That may be an “innovative” gun-control approach, but it serves the same old purpose: banning firearms and punishing otherwise law-abiding people for having them.


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