Gun owners in Massachusetts are not out of the woods yet, but their activism is having an impact when it comes to the nightmare gun control bill known as HD 4420. Rep. Michael Day, the bill’s sponsor, has been pushing hard to get the legislature to hurriedly vote on the measure before they break for their traditional August recess, but on Monday evening House Speaker Ron Mariano sent a message to his fellow lawmakers telling them that “the House believes that we must thoroughly evaluate all of the proposals made in HD 4420 over the summer, and that House Members must have the chance to continue to speak with their constituents and provide feedback.”
This is the clearest sign yet that the sweeping gun control measure is finding far more opposition than its supporters realized. Not only have several police chiefs slammed the bill, warning that it will create thousands of felons out of currently lawful gun owners, but as more folks have had a chance to peruse the language of HD 4420 the criticism has only increased.
In a written statement, Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said the issue of gun violence was best addressed by jailing repeat violent criminal offenders.
“If you want to reduce and help mitigate gun violence, you need to hold these repeat violent criminal offenders in jail,” Sarno said. “To keep releasing these violent criminal offenders back out onto our streets and into our community is foolhardy and only continues the revolving door of our justice system which harms and hurts our community and residents.”
Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood said licensed gun owners are not the issue, and added that lawmakers should create legislation that would address the small percentage of criminals who are repeat violent criminal offenders.
“Springfield Police Department fully supports any legislation and action that would help reduce and mitigate criminal activity,” Clapprood said. “Although I believe the intent of this legislation means well, in truth the … language does nothing to address the issue of illegal guns and ghost guns being used in criminal activity by repeat violent criminal offenders.”
Westfield Mayor Michael A. McCabe, formerly a long-serving police captain in his city prior to being elected mayor, said, “If you remove guns from folks who have lawful ownership, you are removing” a key deterrent against being victimized by criminals.
”We probably have in Massachusetts the toughest gun law application system in the nation, and a gun ownership vetting process second to none,” he said.
In his email to members on Monday, Mariano thanked his colleagues for attending a closed-door meeting last week where Day and other backers of the bill sought to smooth over the concerns of legislators, and blamed the delay on the “new legal landscape” brought about by the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen last June.
“While the House’s commitment to pursuing a comprehensive update remains steadfast, a new legal landscape will be the greatest threat to those efforts [to reduce ‘gun violence’],” wrote Mariano, adding that House leadership will continue to work on the bill until it is ready for debate in the fall.
Again, this doesn’t mean that HD 4420 is dead in the water, or that Massachusetts gun owners can let up on their contacts with lawmakers. In fact, now’s the time to ramp up the pressure on legislators to do the right thing and reject outright the “Lawful Citizens Imprisonment Act”, as the Gun Owners Action League has labeled the bill. I spoke briefly with GOAL’s executive director Jim Wallace on Monday evening, and he says that legislators are hearing from constituents they’ve never heard from before, which is truly gratifying to hear. Gun owners in Massachusetts are rising to the occasion and are already making an impact on this legislation. Now it’s time to redouble our efforts and hopefully defeat HD 4420 once and for all when lawmakers return to the state capitol in September.