Gun Owners Angry That Governor Didn’t Invite Them to Firearms Bill Signing [Updated]
According to members of the Gun Owners Action League, the governor’s office called and apologized for not inviting them to a ceremony Wednesday when new gun legislation was signed into law. They said they were invited to the table for the regulatory process and rollout of the bill. “We have accepted the apology and we are glad the governor’s office wants GOAL to help be part of the conversation and roll out,” the group said in a statement.
So much for working well together.
The state’s largest group of gun supporters “blasted” Governor Deval Patrick on Wednesday for allegedly not inviting them to the “historic” signing of new gun reform legislation that they worked laboriously on with state and local leaders throughout the last legislative session.
Members of the Gun Owners Action League said the group was a “key force” in making sure the new bill, which is being hailed as one of the most comprehensive set of gun laws in the country, was fair and balanced for both gun owners and those who oppose the use of firearms.
“So much for celebrating the historic nature of this bill,” said Jim Wallace, GOAL’s executive director. “We worked tirelessly on this bill and were instrumental in getting it passed—and he can’t invite us to the bill signing ceremony? “
Wallace said Patrick’s lack of an invitation sends a clear message to law-abiding gun owners that they’re nothing more than “second class citizens” based on the fact that they choose to exercise their Second Amendment rights in the state.
Patrick signed the bill, which seeks to curb the gun violence problems impacting families and neighborhoods across Massachusetts, during a ceremony at the State House alongside members of both the House of Representatives and Senate.
GOAL wanted to be present to share the glory, since it marked one of the first times “where both gun control and gun rights advocates came together to agree on a gun violence bill,” they said.
The new law effectively eliminates the distinction between Class A and Class B licenses to carry, requires the state’s Department of Criminal Justice Information Services to create a “real-time web portal” to revamp the private sale of firearms, and makes Massachusetts part of the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System.It also increases penalties for certain gun crimes.
“Like so much else, Massachusetts will be number one in the country for combating gun violence,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who helped craft the bill. “Other states made quick laws that have been repealed. Here we passed a groundbreaking consensus bill, in an extremely thoughtful manner.”
DeLeo’s proposed legislation was based on information compiled by the State House’s Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, and a team of experts that sat on a special committee, known as the Gun Violence Task Force. The committee met more than 15 times over the course of a nine-month period between March and the end of December last year before presenting DeLeo and legislators with a bill.
For months following the release of the first draft of the new proposed gun laws a back-and-forth ensued, as members of GOAL protested specific portions of the bill and said they were unhappy with how it was written. Specifically, GOAL said the state was taking aim at people who wanted to purchase certain types of weapons like rifles by allowing local police chiefs to deny individuals firearms identification cards at their leisure. Eventually, GOAL and state leaders came to an agreement that included neutral language to satisfy both sides of the argument.
“We have been very successful in changing the gun language in this bill,” Wallace said back in July. “GOAL has told the legislature that we are neutral on the bill. We believe this is a victory for the Second Amendment in Massachusetts.”
As of Wednesday, however, the cordial relationship that seemed to blossom between Patrick, DeLeo, State House officials and GOAL members wasn’t firing off so smoothly.