Massachusetts Gun Law Fail Shows Folly Of Universal Background Checks

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Massachusetts has some of the strictest gun laws in the Union. With provisions in their law like requiring a Firearms Identification card or License to Carry in order to purchase and possess a gun, it’s baffling how there are any illegal firearms at all. Massachusetts also has restrictions on so called “assault rifles” and “high capacity magazines”. After obtaining either a Firearms Identification card (in the case of long guns) or a License to Carry (for handguns) a citizen can then go to their local gun dealer and buy a firearm after another mandatory background check. For peer to peer transfers, all a citizen from the Bay State needs to do is log into the Massachusetts Gun Transaction Portal, where the buyer and seller’s information is recorded and verified. Massachusetts is the definition of “universal background checks”.


With all those laws, one would think that Massachusetts is wicked safe and there’s hardly any illegal gun activity.  According to the Giffords Report Card, Massachusetts has an A-. There you have it, right from the horse’s mouth; Massachusetts has their act together. Yet criminals continue to get ahold of guns in the state with little problem. 

Recently a Wareham man was arrested for being in possession and carrying firearms illegally.  As reported in the Cape Cod Times,  a search warrant was executed and uncovered the following:

During the course of the search, detectives seized seven firearms, ammunition, and a large capacity-feeding device for ammunition. In addition, one resident was placed under arrest.

David Daggett (34), of Quaker Road, East Wareham, is charged with two counts of carrying a firearm without a license, four counts of possession firearm without an FID card, possession of a large capacity firearm, possession of a large capacity feeding device, and illegal possession of ammunition.

There’s a very simple explanation to what background check Daggett underwent prior to him coming in possession of these items; none. The universal background check system in Massachusetts – that shining star of the anti-rights community – failed miserably to keep guns from this individual’s hands.

With all this talk about upcoming votes on H.R. 8, the alleged bi-partisan bill to institute the same type of universal background checks Massachusetts uses, we all should pause and think about what that really means. Now is the perfect time to look at and acknowledge the failings in these tough-on-civil liberties states and use them as an example to point out yet again that criminals, by their very nature, don’t follow the law! No amount of legislation can make up for what the criminal element may do. It can simply punish after the fact, and these laws penalize the law abiding citizen instead of the criminal.


What’s of particular interest in our post COVID-19 world is that there’ve been many jurisdictions in Massachusetts that haven’t been issuing the Firearm Identification Cards or Licenses to Carry in a timely manner, if at all.  This practice of slow walking paperwork and leaning on the pandemic as an excuse is the subject of a recent lawsuit filed by The Gun Owners Action League. Further, when the pandemic started, Governor Charlie Baker followed suit with Governor Murphy from New Jersey and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in going against federal guidelines that gun stores were essential.  It was impossible to legally buy a firearm in these states at a firearm dealer at one point or another during the pandemic.

For all those out there that want to keep pushing for so-called universal background checks, it’s time to reevaluate.  States like Massachusetts and New Jersey are abysmal failures. The talking heads and congresscritters need to figure out that we should not be trying to legislate away problems that already have effective (and constitutional) solutions.

John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of “Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use” and NRA certified pistol, rifle and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at on twitter at @johnpetrolino and on instagram @jpetrolinoiii


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