A couple of days ago, we alerted readers to the latest attempted infringement on the Second Amendment rights of Massachusetts gun owners; a massive gun ban that would outlaw virtually all semi-automatic rifles and shotguns by defining them as “assault weapons.” The bill is so obscenely unconstitutional that I had to reach out to Jim Wallace, executive director of the Massachusetts 2A group Gun Owners Action League, to get his take. I’m glad Jim could join me on today’s “Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co” because it turns out there’s another development that’s bad news for gun owners that he let us know about on the show.
Before we get to that, however, let’s talk about HD 353, the gun ban sponsored by Rep. David Linsky. The bill is absolutely crystal clear in its intent, with the very first sentence providing a new definition of “assault weapon” under state statute; “any rifle or shotgun containing a semiautomatic mechanism.” As Wallace notes, there is no grandfather clause contained within HD 353, so if it becomes law then the continued possession of any semi-automatic rifle or shotgun would be punishable by a mandatory minimum of one year in prison, and a maximum term of ten years.
“They’re acting like a spoiled child,” says Wallace of the recent moves by anti-gun lawmakers like Linsky. Wallace believes (rightfully so, in my opinion) that the Democratic establishment in the state is venting its anger at the Supreme Court and its decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen striking down “may issue” carry laws by lashing out at gun owners and the right to keep and bear arms itself.
“In fact, as I’ve told the press, they’re acting like Gov. [George] Wallace after Brown v. Board of Education. You know, it’s kind of funny to see progressives emulating Gov. Wallace, but that’s exactly what they’re doing,” the GOAL executive director concluded, alluding to the practice of Massive Resistance to desegregation imposed by several southern Democratic governors in the 1950s and early 1960s, which led in some cases to the closing of public schools for years rather than follow the Court’s directive to integrate classrooms.
The objective of those governors was to deny a particular class of citizens access to virtually all of their civil rights, while today’s efforts are aimed at depriving all citizens access to a particular right, but other than that I think the analogy is apt, particularly when you have Democrats like Linsky wanting to toss Massachusetts gun owners in prison for merely possessing some of the most commonly-owned arms in the country. And as Wallace informed us on today’s show, the attempts to criminalize and harass gun owners into giving up their rights don’t stop with HD 353. The head of GOAL says he’s also learned that the state’s Firearm Records Bureau has now put a database online and available for the public to download that provides records of the vast majority of firearm transfers in the state going back 20 years. While the data doesn’t have the names of gun owners attached, Wallace says gun owners have been assigned an ID number; something that he says is used in conjunction with other identifying information like the town and zip code to make it possible for database users to figure out the actual person behind the anonymous ID.
“It’s actually kind of scary that anyone who wants to decode this thing can easily get through it,” Wallace tells Bearing Arms. In response, GOAL is teaming up with Comm2A to send what amounts to a pre-litigation letter to the bureau, demanding they remove the database and secure the privacy of gun owners. As Wallace pointed out, however, the database has already been downloaded an unknown number of times, so there is no real way for the bureau to make it right. The pending letter is really just the first step in a lawsuit taking on the database itself, and unfortunately, with bills like HD 353 floating around, it likely won’t be the only litigation filed in defense of gun owners’ rights in Massachusetts this year.