U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and March Fourth, a nonprofit advocacy group with a mission to end mass shootings in America, hosted a roundtable discussion Wednesday in the U.S. Capitol with New Mexico law enforcement, firearm owners, influential voices and advocates for responsible gun ownership to discuss Heinrich’s newly introduced gun legislation, the Gas-Operated Semi-Automatic Firearms Exclusion Act (GOSAFE) Act.

Heinrich introduced the GOSAFE Act Nov. 30. It is framed as a commonsense proposal designed to protect communities from gun violence, while safeguarding Americans’ constitutional right to own a firearm for legitimate self-defense, hunting and sporting purposes.

The guests who spoke at the roundtable included ESPN reporter Sarah Spain; actress, mother and gun owner Melissa Joan Hart; Wilson Cruz, actor and nephew of Pulse nightclub shooting victim; Melissa Alexander, mother of Covenant School shooting survivor; and fashion designer Whitney Port.

“I used to believe that you couldn’t mess with the Second Amendment because that’s a threat to our freedom as Americans,” Hart said. “But now I can say that we are not free as long as weapons of war are allowed in the hands of untrained, unchecked citizens.”

If enacted, the bill would regulate the sale, transfer, and manufacture of gas-operated semi-automatic weapons. The intent is to make a potential mass shooter reload more frequently, thus giving people time to flee and law enforcement time to arrive on the scene. There were 656 mass shootings in 2023 alone, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

2024 marks 20 years since the federal ban on assault weapons ended and the start of a dramatic rise in mass shootings began in America.

“I’m given a chance to talk to people who fundamentally disagree with me on a lot of things, and I have to not presume that they lack humanity, I have to not presume that they’re bad people, but rather try to figure out understand their point of view,” Spain said. “When we’re talking about something like guns, I don’t believe anyone wants children to die in school. I don’t believe anybody wants people to die at the grocery store, in church. So we need to get away from propaganda and keep them focused on facts, and that’s namely that the risk of a person in the U.S. dying in a mass shooting was 70% lower when the assault ban was still active. Researchers estimated that the law, if it t had been in effect from 2005 to 2019, it would have prevented 30 mass shootings that resulted in the death of 339 people and wounded over 1,100 more. Assault weapons were used in nine of the 10 deadliest mass shootings between 2015 and 2022. We have to keep people focused on those facts.”