JIM SHARPE

Which gun legislation sounds better: ‘GOSAFE’ or ‘BARELY-SAFER?’

Dec 4, 2023, 3:00 PM

A piece of legislation known as the “GOSAFE” Act was just introduced in the U.S. Senate — something one of its cosponsors, Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly, calls “…a renewed effort to tackle the gun violence epidemic.”

In a social media video, Kelly says the proposed law will regulate “..the weapons we see used — over and over again — in mass shootings.”

The “GOSAFE” Act would regulate the sale, transfer, and manufacture of one-specific type of firearm: “Semi-automatic, gas-operated rifles and the high-capacity magazines that go with them.”

But will it work? Will it make a big difference in what Sen. Kelly correctly calls our gun violence epidemic?

Probably not. But maybe small-scale change is better than none — if we can include some truth in advertising.

The limited scope of the “GOSAFE” Act (that will result in only small change) is that it would regulate a certain class of rifles. Sen. Kelly goes out of his way to point out in the video that it doesn’t apply to shotguns, hunting rifles or handguns. 

But handguns are — by far — the biggest part of our gun violence epidemic.

Last year, 15,211 people were murdered in the U.S. by someone using a firearm. 

Among the gun homicides in which the type of gun was reported, almost 8,000 were committed by someone using a handgun.  

But fewer than 550 murderers used rifles — handguns were used 12 times as often.

In fact, more people were killed by someone using their feet or fists than by those using a rifle.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, right?  

A listener, who messaged me about this topic, reminded me of the story of “The Star Thrower” — where a girl, encountering a beach full of starfish, starts throwing them back in the ocean one by one. After being told she can’t begin to make a difference, she tosses another one in and says, “Well, I made a difference for that one!” 

I suppose it’s better to try than to just give up — as long as they rename the “GOSAFE Act” to something a little more truthful sounding. How about the “MAYBE A LITTLE SAFER” Act?

Hmmm… doesn’t sound nearly as catchy, does it?

Jim Sharpe

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Which gun legislation sounds better: ‘GOSAFE’ or ‘BARELY-SAFER?’