By yourNEWS Media Staff
On Oct. 18, Massachusetts House lawmakers greenlit a bill aiming to strengthen the state’s gun laws and clamp down on unregistered “ghost guns.” This has been termed by some gun rights proponents as “the worst anti-gun legislation in the country.”
The bill, H. 4135, secured a 120–38 approval in the Massachusetts House. It outlines several measures:
- Serializing and registering key gun components with the state.
- Introducing a system to limit the influx of illegal guns.
- Modernizing the current firearm registration process.
- Expanding the state’s assault weapons ban to include the purchase of AR-15-style weapons.
- Prohibiting the modification of legal firearms into illegal automatic weapons.
- Banning the possession of firearms while intoxicated and discharging firearms near homes.
- Prohibiting firearms in polling places, schools, and government buildings.
- Enhancing the state’s “red flag” laws, allowing judges to temporarily revoke gun licenses of those deemed dangerous.
The National Rifle Association of America-Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) released an Oct. 18 statement opposing H. 4135. They urged supporters to contact their state senators, stating the bill includes “widespread bans on commonly owned firearms,” extends gun registry programs, and places a substantial financial burden on gun owners.
Massachusetts Rep. Ronald Mariano (D-Quincy) suggested that the genesis of this legislation can be traced back to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2022 to overrule a New York law that restricted handgun permits outside homes. Referring to an Oct. 19 post, he mentioned the Supreme Court’s decision affected some components of Massachusetts’ gun laws. Mariano believes this new legislation reinforces Massachusetts’s position as one of the nation’s safest states.
Donna Stevenson, a volunteer with the Massachusetts chapter of Moms Demand Action, commented on the ongoing gun violence in Massachusetts communities. She applauded House lawmakers for addressing the issue, deeming the bill a progressive step in confronting gun violence and supplying communities with resources to counteract this crisis.
However, the bill has not been without its detractors. The Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, responsible for approving gun licenses in the state, unanimously voted to oppose it. Initial concerns about off-duty officers not being permitted to carry firearms were addressed, allowing them to carry weapons even in restricted zones.
Jim Wallace, of the Gun Owners’ Action League, labeled H. 4135 as an overreaction to the aforementioned Supreme Court decision, accusing it of targeting lawful gun owners rather than addressing crime. During the House debate, Republicans also expressed their reservations about the stringent nature of the proposed measures.
Historically, Massachusetts boasts some of the strictest gun regulations in the country. In 2023, statistics from Statista revealed the state had the nation’s lowest gun death rate, with 3.4 deaths per 100,000 residents. For comparison, Mississippi recorded 33.9 deaths per 100,000 residents.
As of now, the state Senate has not introduced its variant of the bill. For the legislation to become law, both Democrat-majority chambers must consolidate into a single bill for Gov. Maura Healey’s (D) signature. Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) anticipates the finalized bill will reach the governor’s desk by the end of the legislative session on July 31, 2024.
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