Governor Patrick Signs Gun Control Bill

Updated:  August 14, 2014

Yesterday, Governor Deval Patrick signed An Act Relative to the Reduction of Gun Violence into law.  The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts is a member of the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, which worked toward passage of this bill.

Posted August 1, 2014: Legislature Passes Gun Control Bill

In the final hours of the legislative session, both the House and Senate passed a bill strengthening Massachusetts’ gun laws.

A conference committee reached a compromise on language giving police chiefs discretion to turn down some requests for a firearms identification permit for rifles, though with a district court’s approval.  The bill brings the state into compliance with the national background check system and requires a background check for private gun sales.

The final version of the bill, H.4376, passed by a vote of 122-29 in the House and 37-3 in the Senate.  Gov. Deval  Patrick is expected to sign it.

“The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts salutes the legislature for passage of this bill, which reinforces Massachusetts’ position as a leader among states in keeping its citizens safer from gun violence.  We applaud the impact this law may have on a reduction in domestic violence,” said Anne Borg, co-president.

The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, of which the League is a member, released this statement when the bill was reported to the floor:  “Stop Handgun Violence and The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence are pleased with the gun violence prevention bill that emerged from the Senate and House Conference Committee last night. It meets many of the goals that the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence and Stop Handgun Violence set out to accomplish. Key provisions of the bill bring the Commonwealth into compliance with the Federal NICS background check system, require background checks for private gun sales and give police chiefs greater discretion in issuing rifle and shotgun licenses. The bill also advances suicide awareness and prevention in the Commonwealth through a multifaceted approach and ensures collection of important data to inform future policymaking efforts.”

Carolyn Lee and Terry Yoffie, LWVMA legislative specialists, served as our representatives to this coalition and spearheaded our efforts on this bill.

8/1/2014

Senate Passes Gun Control Bill With Amendments

Updated:  July 18, 2014

Yesterday, the Senate passed its own version of the gun bill. While there are strong dimensions of the bill, the bill includes a problematic amendment.  You can read the full text of the bill here. The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, of which LWVMA is a member, has issued the following statementl:

“The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence is disappointed by the Senate’s actions today, which significantly weaken the gun violence prevention legislation passed by the House. Removing discretion from police chiefs makes it more difficult to keep rifles and handguns out of the hands of those who pose a risk of suicide or domestic violence, in addition to the public at large.

While there are some good provisions in the bill, particularly the inclusion of background checks for private gun sales and the ability to trace guns used in crimes, our Coalition cannot support the Senate’s version of the bill as drafted. We hope that police chief discretion – an important public safety provision that has the overwhelming support of the public, Chiefs of Police, the Speaker’s taskforce and the House – will be restored in conference. We look forward to working with the conference committee to achieve a final bill that will continue Massachusetts’ national leadership on this critical issue.”

Posted Jul 10 ,2014

A revised gun control bill passed the Massachusetts House July 9 by a 111-37 margin. It now goes to the Senate. The League urges its members and other supporters of stronger gun control to contact their Senators and ask them to support this bill and to strengthen it. The Senate will have to act on the bill before the legislative session ends on July 31 for it to become law.

The bill, now numbered H.4278, contains versions of four the provisions advocated for by the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, of which LWVMA is a member. Among those provisions are participation by Massachusetts in the National Instant Background Check System; the ability of police chiefs and other licensing authorities to reject applications for a firearms identification card allowing the owner to carry rifles but requiring a written statement for such a rejection; a requirement to trace and report firearms used in a crime; and increases in the penalties for some crimes committed with firearms.

The bill also requires development of a school safety framework by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and requires school districts, subject to appropriations, to employ a school resource officer to provide law enforcement and security services; to develop plans to address the mental health needs of its students and faculty; and to have access to two-way communication devices for communication with police and fire departments during emergencies.

The bill allows private firearms sales between individuals to be conducted on a state website rather than requiring they be conducted in the presence of a licensed dealer, though such a website and an enforcement mechanism does not now exist.

It does not place any restrictions on the number of guns an individual may purchase in a month, a provision the Coalition is seeking to have added in the Senate.

Both the Coalition and the Massachusetts arm of the National Rifle Association indicated their support for the House-passed bill.