Gun Owners Action League Calls House Speaker’s Firearms Reform Bill a ‘Disappointment’
They plan on going through the legislation line-by-line to offer ways to change the language.
Members of the Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) said theyâre not too impressed with the proposed âgun violence preventionâ legislation that was unveiled by House Speaker Robert DeLeo on Tuesday, after elected leaders and a special task force spent months compiling information from all over MassachusettsÂ in hopes coming up with balanced recommendations for safety reforms.
âOur first reaction is disappointment,â said the groupâs executive director, Jim Wallace. âWe were looking for something that we could support from the get-go. It was very apparent at the press conferenceâwith who was standing at the podium and who wasnâtâjust how this bill was going to be drafted.â
Wallace said GOAL is planning on going through the bill with âa fine-toothed combâ for Wednesday. They want to make sure that some language drafted in the legislationâ specifically concerning people with mental health issues and registering with a national databaseâis written correctly.
During a meeting at the State House on Tuesday morning, DeLeo unveiled a bill that would implement stricter guidelines for gun sales, requiring that all secondary transactions in Massachusetts take place at a licensed dealerâs store. DeLeoâs proposal also calls for the state to fallÂ into lineÂ with the National Instant Criminal Check System, prohibit a convicted felon from gaining access to a Firearms Identification card, and establish criminal penalties for licensed gun ownersÂ who fail to report a lost or stolen weapon, orÂ improperly store aÂ firearm, rifle, or shotgun.
DeLeoâs proposed legislation was based on information compiled by the State Houseâs 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 total of 44 gun-violence prevention methods that they believed would help reduce firearms-related deaths and shootings statewide.
Calling it âa great bill,â if passed, the legislation would make Massachusetts the “most effective state in terms of gun laws,” according to DeLeo.
But members of GOAL said they found the elected officialâs final recommendations troubling, and vowed to make their qualms known to the public. âWhat we find most disturbing about the bill language is that it expands the âsuitabilityâ requirement to the FID cards,â Wallace said in a statement that listed complaints about the new bill. âEqually disturbing is the proposed requirement that an applicant must have aÂ âgood reasonâ to apply for the card. To expand these requirements is unconscionable and a possible constitutional violation that likely will not withstand scrutiny.â
Currently, law enforcement officials have a procedure for issuing a license to carry, which is used to purchase or possess any legal firearm including handguns. According to DeLeo’sÂ bill, a similarÂ system would be established for the issuance of a FID card, which are used when purchasing a shotgun or rifle.
While GOAL criticized DeLeoâs efforts, Attorney General Martha Coakley stood behind the proposal, and said the gun violence bill ârecognizes the critical intersection between gun violence, suicide prevention, mental health care, domestic violence and school safety,â by bunching them together and covering them in one shot. âThis bill takes important steps to reduce gun violence by ensuring we comply with the national background check system and closing the gun show loophole,â she said, adding that more federal action needs to be taken to restrict illegal firearms sales.
DeLeo said a public hearing on the bill will be held next Tuesday, and should hit the House floor roughly two weeks later for a vote. A version of the bill will also have to go before the Senate, and later be signed off by Governor Deval Patrick.
Below is a summary of the bill, as submitted by DeLeo on Tuesday:
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2014/05/27/gun-owners-call-house-speaker/