House Speaker Robert DeLeo unveiled the long-awaited gun violence prevention bill May 27. The bill was reported out of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security by a very narrow margin, 7-6, and will need an outpouring of support from gun safety advocates to pass. Please contact your Senators and Representatives and urge them to vote in favor of the strong provisions in this bill. You can find their contact information here.
LWVMA and its partners in the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence applaud the bill’s provisions to reduce gun violence in our state, including background checks on secondary gun sales, expanded police chief discretion in issuing gun licenses for rifles and shotguns, reporting of all required information to the national instant background check system, and improved data collection about guns used in crimes and suicides. We hope the legislature will add an amendment to restrict bulk gun purchases as well.
The National Rifle Association and its Massachusetts affiliate will make a strong showing in opposition to this bill. Theirs must not be the only voice our legislators hear. Make your voice heard loud and clear in support of stronger gun laws.
The House bill, H.4121, contains four of the five provisions that the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence has been advocating for:
- Background checks on secondary gun sales, including for all private sales. Such sales would have to take place with a licensed firearms dealer present.
- Massachusetts coming into compliance with the National Instant Criminal Background Check system (NICS). There are provisions to protect the privacy of the submitted information.
- Expanded police chief discretion in issuing gun licenses for rifles and shotguns in addition to handguns. This gives police chiefs discretion to not issue when there are known dangerousness issues.
- Improved data collection about guns used in crimes and suicides, tracing the ownership history of all guns used in and recovered from crime scenes to help determine the source of these guns.
The bill does not include the Coalition’s fifth priority, a limit on handgun purchases per month in order to minimize trafficking and straw purchases and reduce urban violence. We expect that provision to be introduced as an amendment.
The bill also contains numerous provisions dealing with school safety and mental health issues. It is important that the legislature include funding for any of these provisions to avoid burdening our schools and mental health facilities with unfunded mandates.