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Survey: Gun Owners Against Most Gun Regulations

United States Senator Martin Heinrich introduced a bill last year, the GOSAFE Act, that increases regulations on most semi-automatic firearms at the manufacturer, business, and consumer level. Questa del Rio News published a brief summary of the bill in its February 2024 issue.

In Senator Heinrich’s words, this bill aims to “prevent unlawful modifications of permissible firearms, mandate that future gas-operated designs are approved before manufacture, and prevent unlawful firearm self-assembly and manufacturing.” (www.heinrich.senate.gov/gosafe)

Questa del Rio News reached out to Senator Heinrich for comment but did not receive a response as of press time.

Critics who stand against gun regulations generally feel that law-abiding citizens are being punished, rather than criminals. They also argue that the U.S. Constitution’s second amendment was never meant to apply to government controls, considering that our founders had just fought a war against a more powerful government. Rather, it was designed to be a populist protection against governments.

There is an exemption in the GOSAFE Act for any gas-operated semi-automatic firearm in circulation prior to the (potential) passage of the Act, which places the focus of the bill on future manufactured specimens and the gun industry overall.

In an interview with a local gun owner, Taos Bakes Production Lead Jeremy Morris, Questa del Rio News was able to obtain more information on the nuances of the gun operation industry.

“Not all semi-automatics are gas-operated. Some of them operate off a system which they would call blowback, which is using the recoil of the actual shell to slide the mechanism back to chamber the next round—gas-operated is going to be primarily targeted towards AR-15 and AK-47 style firearms,” Morris told Questa del Rio News.

“What do you think about gun regulations in general,” asked Questa del Rio News. “There is a time and a place for it… I personally don’t think it needs to be regulated on the commercial aspect of it, people should be able to buy whatever they want… I know a lot of this is coming into play [for] the safety of the communities and stuff like that but… in the last couple of years we had a gentlemen in Albuquerque driving down sidewalks running over homeless people. Just because stuff like that happens, are we gonna ban cars?… A small waiting period isn’t necessarily the worst, it is a deterrent… but criminals are criminals, unfortunately.”

Morris seemed to be somewhat more moderate when it comes to gun regulation suggesting waiting periods, mandatory training upon purchase, and possibly psych evaluations prior to purchase, but he also emphasized one sobering question: if someone is willing to break the law, why would that person follow the law on gun ownership?

“I have multiple semi-automatic firearms which are in question, never once have they ever been thought to be used against a person, never once have we thought to use them for any criminal activity; we are recreational shooters. I have various hunting rifles that we use to go and take out big game to feed ourselves,” said Morris. “So if they were to put a ban on these kinds of firearms, you’re taking a lot of law-abiding citizens and creating criminals out of [them]… because I don’t think anyone is just going to give ’em up.”

Again, there is an exemption in the GOSAFE Act for current legal firearms owners who may be in question upon the (potential) passing of this bill. However, the bill also places control over the manufacture of future firearms with the U.S, Attorney General and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

“The right to bear arms is there in case the government were to become tyrannical, so we can overthrow or at least defend ourselves against it,” said Morris. “If we give them the opportunity to manufacture, design, regulate our weapons, then we basically put ourselves at a disadvantage in all aspects… If we can’t have high-capacity magazines, then that puts us at a disadvantage if we were to be in a gunfight having to reload, or if they were to regulate the amount of new semi-automatic gas-operated firearms that they’d be producing—then future generations are at that same disadvantage.”

In conversation with another local gun owner, Juan Vigil, Questa del Rio News found that he expressed a similar sentiment regarding the collective need for individual gun ownership. However, rather than placing restrictions on gun ownership, Vigil believes that schools should be required to teach gun education with props, so that people can learn more about guns at younger ages.

“It’s all about education,” said Vigil. “You educate people about guns and we’ll have fewer accidents.”

Vigil’s ideal for “Fortress America” as he worded it, would be for every citizen to be educated and armed to a point where it would be unthinkable for a foreign nation to invade.

Questa del Rio News also reached out to the local branches of the two major political parties, the Taos County Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Taos County.

Of all the responses solicited by Questa del Rio News, it was TCDP Darien Fernandez who gave the sole positive endorsement of the GOSAFE Act.

“I think this bill has reasonable provisions,” said Chairman Fernandez. “It doesn’t prevent people from owning guns and respects the Constitution. A majority of Americans, including people of differing political opinions, think there should be some reasonable regulation of guns in this country. Thoughts and prayers will not stop more mass shootings. It’s shameful that the gun lobby would prioritize guns over the right for . . . school children to live. I’m a gun owner, like millions of Americans, and I don’t see this legislation as a threat to my constitutional rights. I applaud Senator Heinrich for being proactive in wanting to reduce the impact of gun violence. To the argument that more people with guns will prevent mass shootings and that good guys with guns will stop bad guys with guns—look at the failure in Uvalde, Texas.”

“To be fair, the failure in Uvalde was in part the fault of the police,” this reporter commented.
“Uvalde is an example of good guys with lots of training failing to stop a shooting,” said Chairman Fernandez.

“What about the argument that governments should not have a monopoly on guns,” this reporter asked. “The courts have already accepted restrictions on guns,” Chairman Fernandez responded. “Bump stocks have been banned, you can’t walk around with a shoulder-fired missile, [and] you have to get a background check to buy a gun from a retail store. There’s a fundamental governmental role at all levels in providing for health, safety, and welfare.”

Questa del Rio News also received a statement from RPTC Chairman Sarah Valenti. “The GOSAFE Act, targeting so-called assault weapons and large capacity magazines, is deeply concerning to me and other members of the Republican Party,” said Chairman Valenti. “Though it has no chance of passing this go-around, the mere testing of the waters with each of these proposed federal gun grabs is problematic. This proposal takes aim at law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights by restricting the sale and manufacture of semi-automatic firearms with detachable magazines including certain handguns and devices affecting a gun’s rate of fire. Despite claiming to focus on gas-operated systems, the bill’s broad language encompasses various operating systems, revealing a disingenuous naming of the bill. While I acknowledge the importance of addressing public safety concerns I firmly believe that depriving law-abiding citizens of their constitutional rights is not the solution. As I’ve said before, conservatives believe that untreated mental health issues are one of the biggest threats to the citizenry today and are the sole reason behind an increase in mass shootings.

The GOSAFE Act’s exemptions do little to alleviate my concern that this is, in fact, a massive gun grab… limiting access to firearms by law-abiding citizens. Banning firearms based on their operating systems will not prevent criminals from obtaining them through illegal means. These guns exist and therefore will continue to flood the black market for many years to come. Instead of preventing crime, this bill once again attempts to infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens, undermining the very principles our nation was founded upon. Conservatives stand firm in our commitment to preserving our constitutional rights, safeguarding our ability to protect ourselves, and potentially against tyranny. Again, the people poised to lose in this matter are not the criminals, but the group that continually loses rights as the government grows more brazen: the law-abiding citizens of the United States of America, many of whom do not wish to be sitting ducks.”

The statements from our two major political parties seem to be along party lines. This reporter does not foresee the GOSAFE Act passing both houses of Congress.

Questa del Rio News,
Southwest Firearms,
US Senator Martin Heinrich,
Taos County Democratic Party,
Republican Party of Taos County,