The Associated Press

Report: Mass. Needs To Tighten Its Gun Laws

BOSTON — Massachusetts has some of the nation’s toughest gun laws but can do more to reduce violence and keep firearms away from people with criminal backgrounds or mental illness, according to a task force established after the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

The panel created by House Speaker Robert DeLeo said in a report released Monday that Massachusetts should require background checks for most private firearms sales, increase penalties for failing to report lost or stolen guns, and tighten regulations on rifle ownership.

Other recommendations include a more consistent and uniform approach to firearms licensing and training requirements, tax credits for the purchase of gun safes, and two-way communication from schools to municipal police for use in emergencies.

The state also was urged to join a federal program by transmitting information about people who might be unsuitable to own a gun because of substance abuse or mental illness.

“Overall Massachusetts continues to be a leader nationally in efforts to reduce gun violence. The Committee believes that even more can be done,” the task force said in the conclusion of its report, from which DeLeo hopes to craft legislation in the coming months.

Massachusetts law currently allows both a Class A and a Class B license. The Class B license allows an individual to carry a non-large-capacity firearm, and that firearm may not be concealed. The Class A License allows the licensee to carry a concealed firearm for protection.

The report said that since Massachusetts is not a state where gun owners routinely carry their firearms in the open, the state should eliminate the Class B license.

The panel also recommended closing what it sees as a loophole in state law that allows people who may have been arrested repeatedly without being convicted to obtain a firearms identification card to purchase a rifle or shotgun even though they can be denied a handgun license.

In its report, the panel also suggests:

  • Massachusetts law be changed to prevent a convicted felon from receiving a firearms identification card, and any federally prohibited person be denied the ability to acquire any firearm.
  • All owners in Massachusetts be required to verify and sign an affidavit that they still own all the guns legally registered to them each time they renew their license. Penalties for failing to report a lost or stolen gun would be increased to help reduce illegal gun trafficking.
  • Uniform training standards for private gun owners and tax credits for the purchase of safes designed to keep guns out of the hands of children.

The report noted that Massachusetts was one of the safest states in the nation for gun deaths – it had the second-lowest rate, behind Hawaii – from 2001-2010.

In a statement, the Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts complained that it was ignored by the panel in formulating the recommendations.

The state should stop treating law-abiding gun owners like criminals and instead treat “criminals like criminals,” the organization said.

- Here’s the task force’s report (via Scribd):

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  • Ryan Reddell

    “The panel also recommended closing what it sees as a loophole in state law that allows people who may have been arrested repeatedly without being convicted to obtain a firearms identification card to purchase a rifle or shotgun even though they can be denied a handgun license.” If someone is not convicted, does that not mean they ARE NOT GUILTY? So John Doe gets arrested by the same untrained cop because he keeps video taping, holding up a sign in public, or whatever and then the judge lets him go because HE WAS NOT DOING ANYTHING WRONG. He should NOT be able to own a gun????? WTF?

    • OutWest01503

      Exactly, that’s what they want. It’s the Massachusetts way! I love the part about the class B license too. Nobody open carries because they might get hauled away for “brandishing”. See, since nobody is doing it, we should get rid of it!

    • fun bobby

      that’s what we have now and this foolish committee recommended the same standard for rifles and shotguns as well. its double jeopardy by unelected unaccountable bureaucrats. its a way to keep minorities from exercising their rights, a modern day jim crow

  • X-Ray

    We have a special Gun Court, yet we hear reports of people who were found carrying an gun without a license not receiving the mandatory one year sentence. But we pay a commission to come up with strengthened gun controls. Ironic.

  • PaulD

    How about as part of this they look at they look at the absurd quantity and complication of firearms laws that MA has and determine which of them works and which don’t? In the recommendations, they call for part of the training to include an explanation of our laws but based on this report, it’s obvious that even these people don’t understand them. In fact, a MA district attorney has actually argued, in court, that a 19yo can legally by buy a handgun (they can’t).

    Who am I kidding? Rationality wasn’t the point here!

  • PCMacGuy49

    Firstly, I’m military qualified in the use of small arms and am a gun owner who is not a stranger at the range. Secondly, I favor controlling the manufacture, distribution & sale of guns & ammo. The individual states are abridging the 2nd Amendment through legislation & regulation. Don’t worry gun nuts everywhere, the 2nd Amendment isn’t going anywhere. What I fear is liberalized gun carry laws and background checks. Why? There are a lot of felons who own guns legitimately and were not convicted of violent crimes against society, and mental illness (or healthfulness) is not black & white. Security screenings that would effectively weed out the bad guys and true loonies would be expensive and ineffective. Our hyped up gun culture, along with a totally bankrupt modern, mindless population which lacks decorum, is on the cusp of complete social decay. A bleak future awaits. Welcome.

    • PaulD

      I’m not really sure what your point is here. Do you understand current MA firearm law? Rest assured that there is little chance of “liberalized gun carry laws” here. In the rest of the nation, can you point to any statistics showing increased problems after a given state has allowed concealed carry?

      Regarding felons owning guns, they’re already a prohibited person per federal law if they truly are convicted of a felony.

    • Eric Smith

      PCMacGUy49, what exactly do you want? fewer guns or fewer people with guns? The crazies are always going to get the guns. You were in the military- were you in Iraq or Afghanistan? How successful were we in disarming the population there? Do you really think “screening” is the magical solution? and who sets up the parameters? Who defines what the crazies are and aren’t? What safeguards will you put in place to see that corrupt or opposition politicians don’t turn everyone they don’t like into “unsuitable persons”,which is what the Massachusetts lawmakers are trying to do now- make it so that everybody is a non-person, who has no “compelling need” to have or carry a firearm, unless they are politically connected campaign contributors or celebrities. Is that the America you swore to serve and protect against all enemies foreign and domestic? If you think so, you’re in the wrong America.

    • fun bobby

      0 felons have not been convicted of crimes

  • PaulD

    One last comment, and I hope Mr. McDevitt is reading these.

    There is no gun show loophole in Massachusetts and Mr. McDevitt should understand this if he’s leading this group. All private gun transfers in Massachusetts are background checked. They must happen between parties that are properly licensed and an eFA10 must be completed at the time of the transfer. Anybody with a license has been gone through a more thorough background check than pretty much anyone else in the state. Further, the eFA10 system checks the status of that license at the time of the transfer.

    I don’t know how people in this position can make this sort of oversight but it really calls into question their motivation.

  • fun bobby
    please read this as it explains how this report is flawed.

  • fun bobby

    they even want to take away shall issue for FIDs and not define “unsuitable” so the chiefs still cannot be held accountable

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