State House News Service

Mass. Gun Bill Praised From Both Sides

BOSTON — Activist groups that over the years have regularly clashed over state gun law policies are united in singing the praises of legislation unveiled overnight and due up for votes in both branches on Thursday.

“Before you is an historic opportunity,” James Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners’ Action League, wrote in a letter Thursday to legislators. “Never before has our Legislature seen a piece of legislation concerning gun trafficking and public safety that is supported so widely by so many — including Gun Owners’ Action League.”

In their own joint statement Thursday, Stop Handgun Violence and the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence said the bill “ensures that Massachusetts will remain a national leader on gun violence prevention.”

In addition to taking major steps toward addressing suicide awareness and prevention, the groups said the bill, if signed into law, would bring Massachusetts into compliance with a federal criminal background check system, require background checks for private gun sales, and give police chiefs greater discretion in issuing rifle and shotgun licenses.

“We commend the House and Senate for prioritizing this issue and for their hard work in crafting this important legislation,” coalition leader Janet Goldenberg said in a statement. “We are still reviewing the details of the bill to ensure that it will be as effective as possible, but overall this as a very important step forward.”

Stop Handgun Violence founder John Rosenthal called the bill a “solid compromise” and said the section giving chiefs discretion over issuing rifle and shotgun licenses was “the most critical and contested provision in the bill.”

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