The Associated Press

With Firearms ID Deal Reached, Bill Aims To Toughen Mass. Gun Laws

Rep. George Peterson, R-Grafton, holds up a firearms identification card application while testifying during a State House hearing on gun laws on June 3. A compromise gun bill was reached Wednesday night. (Charles Krupa/AP)

Rep. George Peterson, R-Grafton, holds up a firearms identification card application while testifying during a State House hearing on gun laws on June 3. A compromise gun bill was reached Wednesday night. (Charles Krupa/AP)

BOSTON — Massachusetts police chiefs would have the right to go to court to try to deny firearms identification cards needed to buy rifles or shotguns to individuals they feel are unsuitable under a compromise bill released by lawmakers.

The bill, which is expected to come up for a final vote Thursday, is a compromise between House and Senate versions of a sweeping overhaul of the state’s gun laws.

The House version initially gave police chiefs discretion on issuing the ID cards, much like the discretion they currently have over issuing licenses to carry concealed weapons.

Under the compromise, police chiefs would have 90 days to go to court to deny a firearms ID card if they feel the recipient is unsuitable.

The Senate stripped out that provision.

Under the compromise, police chiefs would have 90 days to go to court to deny a firearms ID card if they feel the recipient is unsuitable.

The bill makes other changes to state gun laws including creating a Web-based portal within the state Executive Office of Public Safety to allow real-time background checks in private gun sales, stiffening penalties for some gun-based crimes and calling for the creation of a firearms trafficking unit within the State Police.

The bill also mandates that Massachusetts join the National Instant Background Check System, which requires the state to transmit information about substance abuse or mental health commitments to a federal database for use by police in reviewing firearms applications.

The legislation also requires schools have access to two-way communication devices with police and fire departments and mandates school districts provide two hours of suicide awareness and prevention training to school personnel every three years .

“I think it’s a good bill,” said House Majority Leader Ronald Mariano, D-Quincy, a member of a six-member House and Senate conference committee charged with hammering out a compromise bill.

The final bill would also require police chiefs to give written reasons for any applications they choose to deny. Their decisions would have to be based on public safety and could be appealed in court.

Gun rights activists, including the National Rifle Association and the Massachusetts Gun Owners Action League, had praised the Senate version of the bill, arguing that the House version gave police chiefs too much authority.

After the Senate stripped out the House provision on firearms ID cards, police chiefs and gun safety activists trekked to the State House to press lawmakers to give the chiefs discretion over issuing the cards in the final compromise bill.

Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis spoke at the State House rally and recalled how a man he had issued an ID card to an 80-year-old who then held police hostage using a shotgun.

Davis said he only learned later that the man had mental health problems. He said the House version of the bill could have helped him prevent the man from obtaining the gun.

Attorney General Martha Coakley said Wednesday that she supports giving police chiefs more discretion on issuing the identification cards.

Work on the bill began last year after the 2012 mass school shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The Legislature’s formal session ends Thursday.

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  • Geoffry K

    Be certain to let us know how many criminals obey these new laws.

    • PaulD

      How would they know? It’s not like they did any research leading up to this and they won’t research anything afterwards.

      • Geoffry K

        I guess some do not recognize sarcasm when they read it.

        • PaulD

          Yes, I got the sarcasm.

          However, I’ve had state legislators tell me they didn’t have the data to determine how much of a problem people with FIDs are. This, as you may well know, is complete BS, since they have a complete list of who has an FID and a complete list of who has been arrested. Putting the two together would be easy for someone who took a high school stats course.

          • fun bobby

            there is some restriction on actually collecting the data about approvals and denials. gee I wonder why we can’t do that? is it because then it would be so easy to demonstrate how often black Hispanic women are denied and issued restricted licenses in some cities?

  • Dave George

    Make sure we don’t give Martha Coakley any discretion about our state by NOT voting for her! As bad a this state is about guns, at least this version of the bill lets the citizen retain some rights.

    • fun bobby

      oddly she has been a voice of reason, at least about the 1 gun ever y month restriction and the idiots have crucified her for it.

      • Dave George

        I sent emails to my reps opposing it altogether since it looks like they changed it back. Coakley will say what we want to hear and do differently, I am sure of that.They need to leave the laws alone they are too restrictive NOW for the law abiding people!

        • fun bobby

          you are absolutely right, it looks like the passed it. I am not sure what do to about it. I bet there will be some cities that send a letter to everyone saying their permit is denied. the boston police chief said that no one should have a rifle or shotgun in the city

          • Dave George

            The last American to leave Massachusetts better grab the flag on the way out!

          • fun bobby

            so will that be you or I? after we do they will just hoist the rainbow triangle flag and begin the process of registering all sharp objects

    • fun bobby

      it gives the police the ability to take peoples FIDs that is a new and dangerous power for them to abuse like the power they abuse now over pistols

  • LeftShooter

    Dear Senators and Representatives,

    Please vote NO on H4376 as it contains the odious subjective “suitability” standard language found in lines 685-713. No civil or constitutional right should be based on a subjective standard.

    As this layman sees it, this bill (H4376) says the local Police Chief can still invalidate your civil and constitutional right using the same treacherous language like “could potentially create a risk” or “existing factors that suggest” but they have to seek the agreement of the court. (I don’t know, but how many courts in the Commonwealth hold an unbiased view of gun owners and gun rights?) Meanwhile, the applicant of license holder still is without a license for 90 days (denied
    new issuance or renewal) or 75 days (existing licensee have his/her license
    suspended or revoked) and there is no mention of reimbursement of legal fees,
    etc., if the court finds in the citizen’s favor.

    I’m sure some people will like this since it involves judicial overview. I say why do I need the court to give me what the Constitution does already? Is there any other right our legislators would treat this way or that the MA citizens would allow?

    According to the Executive Office of Public Safety & Security, the total FID cards issued for the three years 2010-2012 is 17,449. To me an incredibly important thing to remember is that the FID only allows purchase of non-high capacity long-guns (rifles & shotguns), and according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, Table 20 “Murder by State, by Types of Weapon” here are the (rifles & shotguns) murder totals for MA: 2010 (0& 1), 2011 (0 & 1), 2012 (0 & 1). So, in the last three years, three people have been murdered in MA with a gun you good legally buy with an FID card, namely a shotgun. It is very important to note that we don’t know if any of the murderers were actually legally-licensed FID holders.

    Further, 1/6,690,000 (MA population) yields a murder rate of 0.0149 per 100,000 population, which would make the MA long gun murder rate lower than the lowest gun murder rate of any country in the world. In short, the Chiefs are looking to create an unconstitutional solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

    If anyone is so well-known to the police by their bullying and intimidation of their neighbors, charge them with a crime! If we remember the very tragic case of Jared Remy, the police and entire law enforcement apparatus does no service to the public by not sufficiently putting bad behavior on the books. If you were police
    officials, wouldn’t you want to protect yourselves against second-guessing,
    public recrimination and legal action by filing the proper reports and arresting people when they violate the law? What former Dover Police Chief Griffin, former Boston PC Davis and current PC Evans and others, are saying is that if someone is “not statutorily prohibited” the Chiefs in essence create their own statutes! Senators and Representatives, that’s your job, don’t cede it to someone else!

    • D. G.

      To the best of my knowledge, anyone “could potentially create a risk” so on that basis, the discretion is basically unfettered. More bad law being foisted on us by unethical amoral clowns. Sooner, rather than later, I expect to move out of Massachusetts.

      • fun bobby

        The boston police chief said that no one in boston should have a rifle or shotgun, I expect they will all get letters saying their permits are revoked and in other cities as well

    • fun bobby

      call them today if they have not voted yet

      • X-Ray

        Too late; they violated their own rules and held binding votes after their self-imposed deadlines.

        • fun bobby

          yup, like they would care about that while violating the constitution, I don’t even think that cod up there is even sacred anymore. lets see they passed a law about public photography, another restriction of free speech and shredded the second amendment all in one session. now we will be subjected to devil patricks victory dance and gloating about demolishing what was left of the rights of his fellow minorities.

  • fun bobby

    “The House version initially gave police chiefs discretion on issuing the ID cards, much like the discretion they currently (abuse) over issuing licenses to carry concealed weapons.”

    • PaulD

      And don’t forget that they have discretion over who can own a handgun (in direct conflict with Heller/McDonald).

      • fun bobby

        when is our turn in federal court? CA Chicago DC all overturned. and here the idiot legislature doubles down

        • PaulD

          Good question. These guys like small monthly donations: http://www.comm2a.org

          • fun bobby

            so do I. they are doing and have done some mighty fine work, seems like an uphill battle. perhaps this will make for a better federal lawsuit since its so blatantly unconstitutional

  • fun bobby

    Call them, call them today, before its too late.

  • fun bobby

    “Work on the bill began last year after the 2012 mass school shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.” and of course it has nothing in it that would have affected the outcome of that event one iota, nor will it prevent any crimes or murders, what it will do is cost cities and towns a fortune in legal fees when their idiot police chiefs violate peoples rights

    • steenkinbadges

      But it makes them feeeeeel good and it looks to the uninformed, emotion-driven electorate like they’re doing ‘something”.

      • fun bobby

        after they tarred and featherd Martha coakley, something I generally approve of, for admitting that the 1 gun per month thing was clearly absurd perhaps the rest of those sheep are probably terrified to fall out of locksteop or use and modicum of common sense

  • fun bobby

    this post was blocked by moderators until today from another poster here

    :”

    Five of my friends applied for an received their LTCs in Worcester. Only two got unrestricted LTCs.

    Two White Men got the unrestricted LTCs, the Black Male, Black Female and White female that applied were issued licenses with restrictions. All had no criminal record and were beyond the age where someone could view you as irresponsible. All married too.

    This system allows discrimination of the worst kind, racism and sexism and they want to extend that to long guns. NO WAY.

    I will take my daughters and move to another state before I would allow them to be subjected to this type of tyranny.

  • fun bobby

    sadly in many cities where people of color reside the chiefs feel the same way

  • fun bobby

    the tide is turning, young people are into liberty, even in MA young people know that racism is wrong even if they don’t like guns.

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