hen asked about three gun control measures the Democratic-controlled state legislature rushed to Gov. Chris Sununu for his signature in the wake of this weekend’s mass shootings, Moulton told WGIR radio’s Jack Heath “I don’t know why Sununu’s afraid to sign this legislation.” Moulton said expanded background checks weren’t a problem, and he said Massachusetts gun laws would lead to lower gun violence.
“States that have stricter background checks have lower gun violence, like Massachusetts,” Moulton claimed. “The reality is that having stricter background checks in Massachusetts has made us the state with the least gun violence in the country.”
As my friend Michael Graham points out, New Hampshire actually has a lower violent crime rate than Massachusetts. Only by including gun-related suicides and accidents involving firearms does Massachusetts end up with less “gun violence”. I won’t argue that suicide by firearm is “gun violence”, but I will point that suicide by any means is lethal, and the point should be to prevent people from killing themselves, not to simply change their means.
As it turns out, the overall suicide rate in Massachusetts has gone up 35% since 1999, though New Hampshire’s has grown even faster. Both states were among the 25 that saw their suicide rate increase by more than 30% between 1999 and 2016, which suggests that Massachusetts’ gun control laws aren’t the suicide or violent crime prevention measures that Moulton makes them out to be.
Moulton also claimed that 2nd Amendment supporters have nothing to fear from living under Massachusetts-style gun laws.
Moulton said that “law-abiding citizens” shouldn’t be concerned about the Massachusetts approach to gun laws. “It doesn’t hurt our Second Amendment. We still have Second Amendment rights in Massachusetts, too.” What Massachusetts actually has is a system that requires residents to get permission from a government employee to own a handgun.
Massachusetts didn’t recognize the right to keep and bear arms as an individual right at all until the Heller decision, and anti-gun politicians in the state have done everything they can to ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling in the decade since, so it’s mind-boggling to see Moulton claim that 2nd Amendment rights are alive and well in the state. Michael Graham notes that anybody hoping to exercise their right to keep and bear arms in the state must first get licensed by their local issuing authority, and broad latitude is given to law enforcement to deny someone a license for any reason or no reason at all.
Gun control activists actually point to Massachusetts’ licensing laws as a way to prevent people from owning guns, not as a state that respects the 2nd Amendment.
While a background check is more often than not quick and hassle-free, gun licensing in, for example, Massachusetts is a weeks- or months-long process that requires submitting a photograph and fingerprints, passing a training course, and going through one or more interviews, all involving law enforcement. That adds significant barriers for even a would-be gun owner who has no ill intent or bad history.
“The end impact is you decrease gun ownership overall,” Cassandra Crifasi, a researcher (and gun owner) at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, previously told me, discussing Massachusetts’s laws. “Lots of folks think, ‘Well, it’s probably not worth going through all these hoops to buy firearms, so I’m not going to buy one.’ And then you have fewer firearms around, and less exposure.”
Sorry, Congressman, but adding “significant barriers for even a would-be gun owner who has no ill intent or bad history”, with the end result being people deciding its “not worth going through all these hoops” to exercise a constitutional right should absolutely be concerning to gun owners and anyone else who supports our constitutional rights. You have a government actively trying to use bureaucracy to keep people from exercising their rights. That looks a lot more like tyranny than respect for the 2nd Amendment in my book.