It’s far too early to celebrate, but there are some encouraging signs for gun owners in Massachusetts when it comes to HD 4420, the nightmare gun control bill labeled the “Lawful Citizens Imprisonment Act” by the Gun Owners Action League. Earlier this week bill sponsor Rep. Michael Day and Democratic House leaders held two days worth of closed-door meetings with their colleagues as they stumped for the bill in the hopes of holding quick votes in both the House and Senate, but heading into the weekend multiple media outlets in Boston are reporting that the legislation is “stalled”, at least for the time being.
Rep. Michael Day, the architect of the proposal, said he doesn’t know when the measure could move forward.
“This may very well be a procedural dispute,” he said. “Hopefully, not a delay tactic.”
The bill has been idle amid procedural disagreements since the House referred the measure to the Judiciary Committee on June 26 and the Senate sent it to the Public Safety Committee on July 10.
“We didn’t expect this would be a hurdle that we’d have to clear to move this bill forward,” Day said. “We’ll deal with that between the two chambers.”
Lawmakers headed home for the week Thursday without making moves on several key pieces of legislation, including a wide-ranging gun control bill.
If passed, it would bring sweeping reforms to gun safety in Massachusetts, including new tracking monitoring systems, a ban on carrying firearms in many public places and licensing changes. The bill is a top priority for House Speaker Ron Mariano (D-Quincy).
For now, it’s not going anywhere. An internal dispute between House and Senate leaders on which committee should hold a public hearing on the bill is what’s slowing things down. House lawmakers want the legislation vetted by the judiciary committee, while the Senate wants the public safety committee to take the lead.
And finally, from the Boston Globe:
Massachusetts lawmakers have hit an impasse over a wide-ranging gun control bill because of bureaucratic infighting that critics say is the latest example of petty dysfunction that routinely slows policy making on Beacon Hill to a crawl.
The dispute hinges on one of the most basic decisions before House and Senate leaders: which legislative committee should hold a public hearing on the gun bill, which is a top priority of House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano.
The gun bill, meanwhile, has yet to have a public hearing in this legislative session, which is typically the main forum in which residents and interest groups can be heard. The House wants the bill to be handled by the Judiciary Committee, citing the fallout of a 2022 Supreme Court decision expanding gun rights across the country and the committee’s history of handling bills related to court decisions. The Senate wants the bill to be heard in the Public Safety Committee, which has historically considered bills related to firearms and gun control.
At issue is a 140-page package of gun control measures, seeking to stem the flow of illegal firearms into the state, modernize firearm laws, and target so-called ghost guns. The bill, filed nearly a month ago, has received praise from gun control supporters and drawn the ire of others, including Representative Peter Durant, a Spencer Republican, police chiefs in Plymouth and Ware, who have blasted it on their department’s Facebook pages, and the Liberal Gun Club, a pro-Second Amendment voice for left-of-center gun owners.
There’s no doubt that there’s some serious intraparty dysfunction going on with Democrats at the statehouse in Boston, but my guess is that the outpouring of opposition from gun owners and law enforcement (including the Firearms Committee of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association is also causing consternation for at least a few Democratic lawmakers. And even some who are all in favor of adding more restrictions on lawful gun owners may have a problem with Day’s attempt to ram his bill through the legislature by the end of the month. While the media portrays this as a dispute about which committee will hold a public hearing, when we last spoke to Jim Wallace of the Gun Owners Action League he told us that Day was threatening to bring the bill to the House Ways and Means Committee, which would vote on HD 4420 and send it on to the House floor without a public hearing at all.
Day’s rush to enact the law before the August recess doesn’t look to be sitting well with Senate President Karen Spilka, who says she’s in favor of voting for “a gun safety bill” by the end of the session, which leaves the door open for a senator to put forward their own competing legislation, and has also told WCVB-TV that “the Senate is committed to holding a public hearing on the issue”.
Massachusetts gun owners aren’t out of the woods yet and they need to keep up the pressure on lawmakers, but if Day’s legislation already had the support it needs to be enacted into law my guess is that the “petty disputes” would be relegated to the sidelines and the bill would be moving forward. The disagreements over which committee should hear the bill are a handy excuse to avoid talking about the mounting opposition to HD 4420 and its attacks on lawful gun owners, but it sure looks like gun owners are having an impact even if Day doesn’t want to admit it.