U.S. Rep. Chris Collins’ (R-NY) Second Amendment Guarantee Act, or SAGA, is looking to make an end-run around several major court battles and block states’ ability to restrict rifles and shotguns at the federal level. SAGA would prevent any states from enacting or enforcing laws that are more strict than federal regulations allow.
This would essentially kill all assault weapon bans and magazine capacity limits for most rifles and shotguns. While the bill doesn’t change the way states regulate handgun ownership, it represents a major move for gun rights.
The SAGA is Collins’ bid to overthrow New York’s SAFE Act, the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013. Passing the SAFE Act was a primary goal of gun control advocates following the Sandy Hook shooting.
But the scale of this bill is much larger than just New York. SAGA, or H.R.3576, will supersede all so-called “assault weapons” bans in all of the U.S.
This is the second major push for pro-gun legislation following years of pressure to create new forms of gun control. Along with the push to regulate suppressors the same way as firearms, SAGA embodies a nationwide rally for gun rights.
“This law would prohibit states from regulating, prohibiting, registering or licensing a rifle or shotgun for the sale, manufacturing, importation, transfer, possession or marketing beyond the requirements of federal law,” said Collins.
“While I understand the importance of the 10th Amendment of our Constitution, which provides states the responsibility to initiate laws and regulations, states like New York should not have the ability to take away the constitutional rights of their citizens,” he said. “The Constitution grants American citizens the right to bear arms in the Second Amendment. This amendment shall not be infringed upon and unfortunately, that is what Cuomo’s SAFE Act does.”
“The Founding Fathers envisioned a society where Americans have, and will forever possess, the right to keep and bear arms,” Collins added. “The Second Amendment can only be interpreted one way, and that is it guarantees that Americans have the right to own a firearm. It is one of my most important duties, as a member of Congress, to assure that the rights granted to the people in my district are not infringed upon.”
Gun control advocates criticized the bill. “This is one of the more dramatic and extreme bills out there,” said the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s Lindsay Nichols. “It would really impact almost every state in the nation.”
Nichols said that gun control efforts would be “significantly undermined” by SAGA.
Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, said that the bill would put millions at risk. “We understand that Washington is in turmoil right now,” said Cuomo. “We just ask that they don’t do anything to set back the progress we’ve been able to make despite them.”