Supporters of the nightmare bill known as HD 4420 are gathering behind closed doors at the state capitol in Boston today, hoping to persuade their fellow Democrats to ram the legislation through the state House and Senate by the end of the month. On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, Gun Owners Action League’s Jim Wallace provides an update on the 2A-killing bill, which GOAL has labeled the “Lawful Gun Owners Imprisonment Act”. According to Wallace, HD 4420 could get a vote on the House floor without a single public hearing, even as a number of police chiefs in the state are joining the growing chorus of critics.
First, the good news. Wallace says he’s heartened that many gun owners have been reaching out to their legislators to express their own opposition to the measure, and the outspoken criticism by individual police chiefs along with a report issued by the Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association that details some of the many problems in HD 4420 is having at least some impact on lawmakers. There’s also some political infighting that could delay the bill, with House and Senate leadership at odds over the route the legislation should take.
Rep. Michael Day, the bill’s author and co-chair of the Judiciary Committee, said the goal of the closed-door meetings is to clarify misconceptions and confusion as gun owner advocates mount intense opposition. He said the discussions would rebut claims that the bill is a “total scrapping of the current system.”
“Time is of the essence when it comes to firearm safety and making sure we make the improvements we need in this area,” Day said in an interview following a meeting Thursday with top House Democrats, including Mariano and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Aaron Michlewitz.
While multiple members of Mariano’s leadership team voiced urgency about the bill, they offered differing assessments about the timeline for action amid a spat with Senate Democrats over which committee should review the bill.
Day, who noted there have been 13 shootings in Massachusetts so far this month including one in Mattapan earlier Thursday, told the News Service he wasn’t sure when his proposal might emerge for a hearing or hit the House floor for a vote.
Second Assistant Majority Leader Sarah Peake said the target is for the House to take up Day’s bill before lawmakers break at the end of the month.
“As good as our gun laws are, clearly they need an update, and we have a sense of urgency about this,” Peake said in an interview. “This is why we hope to get this done before we recess.”
Senate Democrats have been fairly quiet about the issue, even as Day publicly criticized them for not agreeing to send the bill to his committee. Senate President Karen Spilka said in a May 24 tweet that her chamber “is committed” to legislation updating the state’s gun laws “this session.”
According to Wallace, Day wants a joint Judiciary Committee to rubberstamp the bill before sending it on to the House and Senate floors for quick votes, while Senate leadership has been pushing to send the legislation to the Public Safety Committee, which is generally where gun-related bills are heard. Wallace tells Bearing Arms that Day is now threatening to move the bill to the House Ways and Means Committee as early as next week, and the committee could approve the bill without a single public hearing before pushing it to the floor of the House. If Day adopts that strategy, however, the Senate wouldn’t need to take up HD 4420, and instead could introduce their own competing legislation.
Passage of HD 4420 is not a done deal, in other words, though it certainly appears that there’s an appetite for some new infringements on the fundamental rights of Massachusetts gun owners from a majority of lawmakers.
Which brings us to the bad news. Wallace says he’s convinced that there are still a number of gun owners across the state who have not engaged their lawmakers, and who may be oblivious to the existential threat to the right to keep and bear arms posed by HD 4420. That’s not hyperbole, as even police chiefs are warning that if HD 4420 becomes law many legal gun owners will become criminals overnight. And as Wallace shared, even non-residents could end up committing felony crimes if they simply travel through the state on their way to other destinations. If I were to drive from Virginia to Maine, for instance, the HD 4420 would require me to either leave my “large capacity” magazines back home or apply to the state for a serial number to etch onto each magazine. Possession of an unserialized ammunition feeding device would be a felony under HD 4420, even for those traveling through the state.
Now, that provision squarely violates the federal Firearms Owners Protection Act, but so what? Most of the bill violates the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment jurisprudence, but that’s of little concern to the gun prohibitionists intent on turning this legislation into law. Here’s just a partial list of the infringements as laid out by the Gun Owners Action League.
SECTION 56 of the bill (New Training Mandates):
· Written Exam
· injury prevention and harm reduction education
· active shooter and emergency response training
· applicable laws relating to the use of force
· de-escalation and disengagement tactics
· live firearms training – to be determined by the State Police
· Students must meet new established minimum requirements
Criminal Justice Information Services will issue certificate rather than the instructor
Wallace says he’s heard from firearms instructors who are warning that not only will this expanded instruction likely require four to five days of training and a cost into the four figures, but would put a complete halt to all mandated training until the state promulgates the new standards and instructors can get up to speed and be certified for training. Since this training is required to simply possess a firearm in the state as well as to carry one, it will be virtually impossible for would-be gun owners to exercise their Second Amendment rights for an undetermined period of time, and only at great expense once the new rules are promulgated.
SECTION 173 of the bill:
Ban on possessing any gun, loaded or unloaded:
- “prohibited area” shall mean any of the following, including in or upon any part of the buildings, grounds, or parking areas of:
- a place owned, leased, or under the control of state, county or municipal government used for the purpose of government administration, judicial or court administrative proceedings, or correctional services;
- a location in use as a polling place or used for the storage or tabulation of ballots;
- an elementary school, secondary school, college, university or other educational institution including transport used for students of said institution and places where persons are assembled for educational purposes;
- any private property, including but not limited to residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, institutional or undeveloped property, unless the owner has provided express consent or has posted a sign indicating that it is permissible to carry on the premises a firearm with a valid and lawfully issued firearm license or permit under Chapter 140;
- A law enforcement officer may arrest without a warrant and detain a person found in violation of this section.
- These restrictions shall not apply to a law enforcement officer while in the performance of their official duties, or a security guard employed by the prohibited area while at the location of their employment and during the course of their employment.
Additionally, any “large capacity firearm” (which is basically any semi-automatic that can accept a detachable magazine) must be transported “unloaded and locked in a container”, even if you possess a valid license to carry. In theory the state of Massachusetts may allow for concealed carry, but in reality any gun owner who tries to do so is going to quickly end up committing a crime.
HD 4420 is a gun controllers’ wet dream, and a nightmare for any gun owner who lives or visits the state. And according to the Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association, it will also “place a severe strain on Law Enforcement Agencies”, while turning today’s lawful gun owners into tomorrow’s non-violent felons. From the MPCA’s Firearms Committee report:
Currently the majority of Massachusetts Law Enforcement Agencies are understaffed, or at minimum staffing levels. Departments have difficulty in recruiting qualified candidates from a diminishing e. Civil Service Departments in particular face a long and tedious process in recruiting, replacing, and training officers. Police Academies have limited sessions. Some provisions in this Bill create a new host of crimes
and activities that Officers must respond to. This will divert Officers from pursuing investigations into other traditional activities.
Some provisions of this Bill will create a new host of felons who are not criminals (who would never engage in traditional criminal activity) are currently legally licensed firearms owners, yet would become “criminals” if the Bill is passed and new regulations not known or misunderstood, or they possess a newly prohibited item.
In addition, many Massachusetts Police Officers are not always familiar with the complexities of the current Massachusetts Firearms Laws. To introduce a tremendous number of NEW firearms Laws will become a training and enforcement nightmare for Law Enforcement Agencies. Department Training Budgets are already stretched thin by the recent POST mandatory training requirements, which were
also unfunded mandates.
Even non-gun owners have reasons to be staunchly opposed to HD 4420, at least if they’re concerned for their own personal safety.
Be sure to check out the entire conversation with GOAL’s Jim Wallace in the video window below, and if you’re a Massachusetts resident please both reach out to your own representative and urge them to oppose HD 4420 and help educate and inform your friends and neighbors about the fundamental threat to public safety and civil liberties posed by Rep. Michael Day’s nightmare legislation.