Fewer guns, more crime: new report slams Massachusetts gun control laws

Josh Reynolds

The big news in Boston today is the fact that a 7-year old brought a loaded handgun to a school in the city’s Dorchester section; an incident that thankfully didn’t result in any injuries after the gun was discovered Thursday afternoon. Boston’s mayor is calling for accountability, while the city’s school superintendent says she’s speechless, and there will undoubtably be attempts lawmakers to “do something” to address the situation through more gun control legislation in the days to come.

A new report from the state’s Gun Owners Action League, shows that even as legislators have placed more and more restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms over the past 25 years, the number of gun-related homicides has increased by more than 100%.

“What just jumps off the page is the more than doubling of gun related homicides since the passage of the 1998 Gun Control Act,” said Jim Wallace, Executive Director of GOAL. “For more than two decades we have constantly heard that Massachusetts is leading the nation in ‘common sense’ gun control laws. Using the State’s own data, we are proving that is simply a false and dangerous narrative.”

Using the State’s own data, the report reflects an 111% increase in gun related homicides since 1998. Gun related suicides are down a few points, but that marginal success is outweighed by a huge increase in suicide by hanging/suffocation. Virtually no gains have been made in accidental gun deaths as those numbers were so minuscule already.

It is GOAL’s hope that the legislature will finally see what this so-called, gun control effort for what it really is. An affront to our Second Amendment civil rights. There is absolutely no way to justify what has been done to the Second Amendment Community in the name of “safety”. One of the first things the legislature needs to address in the next legislative session is a complete revamp of the State’s gun laws in a manner that respects our community’s civil rights. Further, the political leadership needs to start addressing the human criminal element head on and the growing mental health crisis.

The Gun Control Act established restrictive licensing and permitting procedures for all legal gun owners, and since then the state has imposed a number of new laws aimed directly at legal gun owners including a ban on so-called “assault weapons” and “large capacity” magazines, universal background checks, and “red flag” gun seizures. As the GOAL report documents, however, gun-related homicides rose from 63 in 1998 to 133 in 2020; a substantial increase even given the growing population during that same time period.

Gun-involved accidental deaths and suicides have remained largely flat in the years since the GCA took effect, though as GOAL notes there has been a slight reduction in the number of gun-related suicides; from 153 in 1998 to 134 in 2020. More importantly, however, the increase in deaths by hangings and suffocations has more than offset the small reduction in gun-related suicides.

The GOAL report concludes that “here is absolutely no way to justify what has been done to the Second Amendment Community in the name of ‘safety'” in Massachusetts, but I’d say the damage goes far beyond existing gun owners. Every Massachusetts resident, whether or not they’re a part of the Second Amendment community, has been impacted by the insistence of state lawmakers that by cracking down on the exercise of a constitutional right violent criminals will somehow be prevented or dissuaded from carrying out their carjackings, home invasions, armed robberies, and drive-by shootings. As the Gun Owners Action League has previously pointed out, Massachusetts has the highest rate of violent crime of any New England state, including the permitless  carry states of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine (the three New England states with the lowest violent crime rates, incidentally).

The state’s gun control laws have been a miserable failure, at least in terms of preventing or reducing homicides, suicides, and accidents involving firearms. When it comes to preventing legal gun ownership, however, I think they’ve been far more successful. It’s not just gun companies that have been moving out of the state; legal gun owners have been doing so as well, fleeing across the border to the friendlier confines of the Live Free or Die State or moving farther afield to states like Texas and Florida, where their rights have not been turned into criminal offenses.

I commend Jim Wallace and all of the other 2A activists who remain for fighting an uphill battle for our fundamental right to armed self-defense, and I appreciate the work of GOAL to educate and inform Massachusetts residents about the failures of the state’s gun control regime. I doubt the legacy media is going to be too eager to run with this story but we can help spread the word by sharing the full report with gun-owners and non-gun owners alike.