GOSAFE Act Is No 'Modest Proposal'

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

In 1729, Jonathan Swift wrote “A Modest Proposal.” A biting satire, it argues that the solution to the poor in Ireland is to eat babies. It was meant to shock and appall, but it was never a serious suggestion.


That’s kind of what went through my mind when I read this editorial about the GOSAFE Act titled, “Angus King’s bill is modest proposal to reduce gun violence.”

After all, the choice of the term “modest proposal” couldn’t be coincidence. That’s especially true in light of just how horrible King’s bill actually is. It’s anything but modest, going so far as to dictate not just what we could buy or sell but also what can be manufactured.

It seems, though, they weren’t harkening back to Swift’s satire. They’re serious.

Three weeks later, King and several colleagues introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would place some new restrictions on high capacity magazines and gas-operated semi-automatic guns.

It is a modest bill that is far short of a ban on assault weapons, which many people — including the BDN editorial board — have called for.

It is, however, an important potential move forward at a time when much gun control legislation has faced dim prospects in Congress. However, given that King’s bill so far has no Republican co-sponsors, it, like much other legislation aimed at restricting guns and ammunition, faces extremely long odds in Congress.

That is unfortunate, because even if this bill is far from perfect, Americans want — and deserve — more restrictions on some types of guns. Gun violence is much more prevalent in the U.S. than other wealthy, advanced countries.

The Gas-Operated Semi-Automatic Firearms Exclusion Act, or GOSAFE Act, would establish a list of prohibited semi-automatic firearms and mandate that future “gas-operated” designs, which allow rapid firing, go through an approval process before being manufactured. It would also prevent certain modifications of allowed firearms, and prevent “unlawful” self-assembly of “ghost guns.”

It would limit magazines to no more than 10 rounds of ammunition and outlaw conversion devices, such as Glock switches and bump stocks that allow guns to fire rapidly. Finally, it would set up a voluntary buyback program to allow gun owners to turn in and receive compensation for guns and magazines that would be banned moving forward under the legislation.


It should be noted that full-auto switches are already illegal. That’s why we’ve seen a number of people prosecuted for having and selling them.

But the bill goes well beyond any assault weapon ban and anyone who has remotely compared this bill with those can see that as plain as day.

This is no “modest proposal” and leave it to the editorial board of a newspaper to argue that it is. This is a deep assault on not just our right to keep and bear arms but the gun trade as a whole. All of which also ignores that these rifles are only used in a fraction of homicides each year.

They’re not the problem and never were.

The GOSAFE Act is an abomination against the rights of free men and women. Nothing like this should ever see the light of day and King should be ashamed of himself for even presenting something like this. What’s worse, though, is the gaslighting by people like this editorial board that pretends it’s less than an assault weapon ban.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member