Oh. My. God. I heard this this morning on the radio, and I am stunned.
Massachusetts already has some of the strictest gun laws on the books. To get a license to own a handgun, I had to get a background check, get fingerprinted, get photographed, pay $100, take a gun course, and demonstrate my proficiency by shooting at the police gun range on Moon Island and achieve a certain score.
Massachusetts is a “may issue” state, not a “shall issue”. This means that the police chief of EACH TOWN has complete discretion (read “whim”) whether to issue you a license or not. They also can add “restrictions” on your ability to carry your handgun concealed, i.e. most law-abiding citizens in Boston cannot carry concealed outside of their home, unless it is to take the gun to the range. On the other hand, a resident of a town that issues concealed carry permits without restrictions CAN carry within the city of Boston.
When you go to Boston Police Headquarters to apply for a gun permit, you are ACTIVELY DISCOURAGED with looks and incorrect information by the people behind the counter. They actually look at you like you have two heads, or are mentally incompetent to be asking for a gun license.
Also, you can only buy guns that are “approved” and listed on the two rosters (handgun and “large capacity” rifle roster). If a gun is not listed, you cannot buy it.
On top of these infringements, the gun laws are incomprehensible. There are so many, and so complex, that is it nearly impossible to fully understand them. If there are so many complex laws that the average person cannot understand them, then they exist to either deter you, or make you into an accidental criminal.
I have asked gun store owners, gun safety trainers, and POLICE questions about gun laws, and many times they cannot immediately answer me, or they give INCORRECT information. Yes, even the police. I have called Boston Police Headquarters with questions (because I want to be absolutely within the law) and they answer incorrectly. I had to go buy a guide to Massachusetts gun laws, and read the dense legalese to get the answers to my questions. It is a short, 142 page manual.
When you travel to the gun range with your guns, if you have a Class “A” license, you must have the guns “under your direct control” (i.e. on your body), or each gun must have a trigger lock or be in a locked container. Absurd.
And now, to pile further insult upon these Unconstitutional laws, a Democrat Legislator from Natick Massachusetts has filed a bill that will add more.
These measures would include: A 25% tax on ammunition and gun purchases! Mandatory signing of a mental health waiver so the State has access to your records! Mandatory storage of “high capacity weapons” at the gun club, not in your home! Mandatory purchase of LIABILITY INSURANCE!
NONE of these measures would in anyway affect the criminals running around Boston with guns – only the law-abiding citizens. This “Legislator” is such a STATIST I want to puke!
The added emphasis in bold is mine.
Adding to the debate over gun regulation and violence in Massachusetts, Rep. David Linsky, a Natick Democrat, plans to file legislation that would require gun license applicants to disclose their mental health histories and prohibit assault weapons from being stored in homes.
Linsky, a former prosecutor and long-time advocate for stronger gun control laws, said the bill he intends to file Thursday or Friday will include 25 different provisions, addressing everything from licensing standards and gun storage to limits on the number of guns than can be purchased each month.
The bill will join other efforts to address gun violence in Congress and on Beacon Hill in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. elementary school shootings. Gov. Deval Patrick on Wednesday filed his own bill, reviving his push for a limit on purchases to one gun a month and calling for an increased investment in mental health treatment.
Efforts to curb gun violence in Massachusetts could also dovetail with federal action after President Barack Obama on Wednesday unveiled a $500 million package of reforms, calling on Congress to pass universal background checks and ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
The president also issued 23 separate executive orders, including ordering federal agencies to make more data available for background checks, appointing a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and directing the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence.
Earlier this month, Linsky held a closed door strategy meeting with more than 100 House and Senate lawmakers, including Republicans, to discuss gun violence and efforts to strengthen the laws in Massachusetts, which already include a ban on assault weapons.
“I expect it will be some things similar, and some things different,” Linsky told the News Service on Wednesday morning, comparing his bill to Patrick’s proposal.
Like the governor, Linsky said he supports a one-gun-a-month restriction on purchases. His bill will also require gun license applicants to sign a waiver giving police access to their mental health records, with felony criminal charges applicable to those who lie on their application.
Linsky said his bill will also propose a ban on large capacity magazines with more than 10 rounds, or five shotgun shells, and require that large capacity rifles and grandfathered assault weapons be stored at a gun club or shooting range, not in the owner’s home. Gun storage restrictions would eliminate the need to tinker with the types and definitions of weapons outlawed under the state’s assault weapon ban, he said.
“In my view, the only difference between a legal, large capacity rifle and a grandfathered assault weapon or banned assault weapon are cosmetics, so in my view they will be treated the same,” Linsky said.
The bill will also require gun owners to purchase liability insurance, and impose a 25 percent sales tax on ammunition and gun purchases to fund mental health services, victim services, firearm licensing and police training.
While the state of New York acted quickly to toughen its gun laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the process in Massachusetts is likely to take longer.
Asked about the mandatory mental health reporting in the New York law, Linsky said, “I want to hear from mental health professionals before I do that. I’m not going to say no to that idea, but I don’t think it’s been vetted.”
House Speaker Robert DeLeo has asked Northeastern University Associate Dean Jack McDevitt to lead a task force to study gun laws and the intersection between gun violence and mental health. Linsky anticipates a public review of his proposal, and said recommendations from the task force could eventually be folded into his bill.
U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, who is planning to run for U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s seat, called for an immediate vote on the president’s gun control legislation soon after the inauguration.
Congressman Joseph Kennedy III also issued a statement, calling plans to reduce gun violence “painfully overdue in this country.” “Over the past decade there have been too many lives lost, families broken and communities shattered by our inability to reasonably restrict access to dangerous weapons,” Kennedy said.
Patrick on Wednesday called on the Legislature to approve $5 million in new spending on mental health programs, including $500,000 to diagnose and treat mental illness among children, $1.1 million for mental health training in school systems, and $900,000 for crisis intervention training. Mental health advocates in recent years have asserted that Department of Mental Health programs have borne a disproportionate share of budget cuts.
“Obviously, not everyone who suffers from mental illness is violent, but concerns have been raised in the wake of Newtown – that mental health services be enhanced, and that’s something I’m sensitive to,” Patrick said in Quincy Wednesday morning.
Patrick’s bill would require courts in Massachusetts to transmit relevant mental health records to the state’s criminal justice information system so the information can be included in a national registry that officials in all states can access when making decisions about issuing gun licenses.
The governor is also refiling his proposal to limit licensed individuals to no more than one weapon purchase per month from licensed dealers, and to require background checks for sales at gun shows. The bill would also reduce access to high-powered rounds of ammunition.
Patrick’s bill will call for tiered punishments for weapons possession on school properties and give police the authority to make arrests on school properties without a warrant, a change designed to quickly address dangerous situations. The bill will increase penalties for repeat gun law offenders and create four new gun crimes.