The horrible shooting in Newtown CT by a person who stole firearms has prompted legislators in MA to renew calls for even more strict laws that would only infringe on the rights of lawfully licensed US citizens. The proposed laws would have no effect on the criminals and those with mental illnesses to commit heinous acts. Most lawful firearms owners in MA oppose several of the sections of these proposals and also urge our legislators to pressure the judicial system to more vigorously enforce existing laws and penalties and clean up existing and confusing statutes. We support sections of the laws that strengthen background checks nationally, restrict access to firearms to those not legally permitted, to modernize and standardize licensing procedures in the Commonwealth, to create and enforce mandatory sentencing for criminal offenders, and insist on rigorous training for new licensees.
Gun owners in general are the most law abiding US citizens in the Commonwealth. The fact is that if you have a conviction of almost any crime including DUI, assault, as well as some youthful offender crimes are not eligible for a license to carry or own firearms in MA. The gun laws here also are some of the most restrictive in for storage and personal responsibility for firearms and ammunition.
Some properly worry about gun show loopholes which do exist in other states allowing people who do not have the proper training, background, or even license to purchase firearms. We have no such loopholes in MA. Gun purchasers at shows go through the same process at the vendor’s table including showing proper license, fingerprint check, and form completion as at a store. Vendors are required to have internet access to validate the customer as any retail store.
A private sale of firearms is also strictly regulated by the state. Lawful owners are only allowed to sell 4 firearms privately per year and have access to the state’s record system (Mass Instant Records Check System or MIRCS) (https://mircs.chs.state.ma.us/fa10/action/home?app_context=home&app_action=presentTrans) to validate the license of the buyer and seller by each. Also, the sale is registered on the MIRCS site and requires both buyers and seller’s license number, PIN, firearm description and serial number. If all the data checks out, the sale is approved by the state, immediately registered, and a report can be printed out for both parties.
The latest report in the CDC Deaths Release document (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/deaths_2010_release.pdf) show homicides by gun violence (11,000) is much less than ½ of alcohol induced deaths (26,000), simple falls (26,000) and less than 1/3 of suicides. Actually it is very far down the list.
Massachusetts has a very complex and confusing set of laws concerning gun registration and licensing, however Massachusetts also already has the lowest gun death rate in the country with 3.14 gun deaths per 100,00 (accidental, suicide, and all types of gun related deaths) in the country. (http://www.vpc.org/press/1204death.htm) Burdening and confusing the system even more is just not necessary in Massachusetts and will only impact the law abiding gun owner
Certainly every death by gun violence is horrible and of the 11,078 gun violence deaths show clear patterns that begin with inner city gang violence and have no correlation to magazine size, frequency of lawful citizen purchases, or ammunition type. Rep Linsky’s attempt to demonize the lawful possession of basic firearms by legally licensed MA residents is just continued grandstanding by the extreme left to rid society of firearms and ignore intelligent discourse to improve the situation.
Just as everyone in the country, MA gun owners mourn for the victims of the tragedy in Newtown CT. Had the mother secured the guns as required by law both in NJ and MA, this tragedy may have been averted. One detail omitted by the media for the most part was that the shooter tried to purchase a rifle at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Danbury CT but was denied because he wouldn’t submit to the required background check. The system works. The media also reported the shooter used an AR15 type rifle in the crime but didn’t follow up that this proved to be untrue. An AR15 (AR is short for the company Armalite) is simply a standard one-shot at a time rifle that happens to look like, but is totally different and unrelated to automatic assault rifles used by the military. They are not even close.
With regards to that horrible crime, one wonders why the 4 teachers at the school that Lanza had an altercation with the day before didn’t report that to local Police. The media failed to report this also.
MA gun owners are not blind to the fact that intelligent and thoughtful firearms laws are necessary. By definition, a citizen who possesses an LTC in MA is has a squeaky clean criminal record and has demonstrated law obedience his or her whole life. We respect society and the privileges afforded us by the right to defend ourselves, family, and loved ones.
MA gun owners would like to see the existing laws vigorously upheld. Sec. 51 of Ch 180 of the MGL clearly states that whoever commits an offense while armed with a firearm SHALL be punished by imprisonment for not less than ten years, but liberal judges do not often allow that to occur. I challenge all those who are unfamiliar with the existing laws and penalties to read Chapter 180 “An Act Relative to Gun Control in the Commonwealth” (http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/1998/Chapter180). It is 44 pages long and is just an addition to the General Laws.
Instead of imposing more unnecessary regulations on the law abiding US citizens in MA who possess lawful permits, the MA legislators would be better served to make know to their colleagues in other states how we got to the lowest firearm related homicide rate in the country.
Arbitrary feel-good legislation such as reducing magazine capacity to 7 rounds will hurt almost every lawful owner in the state as almost all pistols are manufactured for 10 rounds. This is certainly an infringement on the right to own as it would eliminate most all semi-automatic pistols. (a misconception that is common is that semi-automatic is like a machine gun. This only means you must pull the trigger once for each round you shoot; you do not get 10 bullets fired at once). Many handguns are manufactured in MA included KAHR arms close by in Worcester. This legislation would cost job and state revenue.
A law to limit purchases to 1 gun per month is another arbitrary piece of feel-good legislation that only affects lawful citizens and local small businesses. Since guns are purchased using sophisticated background checks and registration by serial number, firearms bought for the purpose of “straw” purchases do not happen since the guns are easily traced to the original purchaser.
MA gun owners would be happy to work constructively with the legislature to further reduce our nation lowest rate of 3.14 firearm death per 100,000. We understand firearms and the issues surrounding their safe operation and storage as well as important safety requirements for handling of ammunition. We also have first-hand knowledge of the difficulties in adhering to the existing set of confusing and sometimes contradictory laws in MA. We ask that our elected officials reject the current climate in Washington DC of not having open constructive dialogue leading to well thought out laws that serve to better society.