Massachusetts bill aims to bring state law in line with Supreme Court gun ruling

Massachusetts lawmakers approved a bill aimed at recasting the state's gun laws in the wake of last month's Supreme Court ruling making it harder for states to limit access to firearms.

Democratic leaders — who have pledged to draft tougher legislation when they come back into formal session next year — said the bill would bring state law in line with the high court ruling that found a New York law restricting carrying licenses, similar to Massachusetts law, was unconstitutional.

Under the New York law, residents needed to show proper cause, or an actual need, to carry a concealed handgun in public for self-defense.

Massachusetts’ law had said those deemed suitable could get a license to carry if they show “good reason to fear injury” to themselves or their property “or for any other reason,” including “for use in sport or target practice only.”

The bill, passed Monday morning, would strike much of the language, which the court ruling has effectively deemed unconstitutional.

The language was shipped to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker early Monday after lawmakers blew past a midnight deadline when they were supposed to end their formal session.

The measure would require a licensing authority, like a law enforcement official, to conduct a personal interview with anyone seeking an initial application for a license to carry a firearm.

It would also ban from getting a gun license anyone subject to “a permanent or temporary harassment prevention order” or who “may create a risk to public safety or a risk of danger to self or others.”

Following the ruling, Democratic Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who is running for governor, said police chiefs should no longer deny or impose restrictions on licenses to carry a gun just because the applicant doesn’t have a “good reason” to carry.

Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners' Action League, said lawmakers failed to reach out to his organization before drafting the bill.

“It would have been nice if they had given the courtesy of a phone call so we could have consulted with them," he said Monday. “They didn’t include the stakeholders in any of this.”

Baker said last week that he'd talked to Democratic leaders and hoped to have a bill he can sign.

“It’s certainly my hope we get something that we can use to both validate the laws we already have here in the commonwealth but also to a couple other things we need to do to comply with what the federal Supreme Court did,” he said.



More from WBUR

Listen Live