After springing an October surprise on Massachusetts gun owners last week, House Democrats are rushing to hold their first votes on a revamped version of a sweeping gun control bill deemed the “Lawful Citizens Imprisonment Act” by Second Amendment advocates in the state. Groups like the Gun Owners Action League are still poring over the bill and trying to uncover all of the new restrictions on legal gun owners contained within HD 4607, but legislators have wasted no time in scheduling the bill’s first public hearing even as those who’ll be subject to its restrictions are trying to decipher all of the legalese wrapped around the new provisions.
On Tuesday morning, the House Committee on Ways & Means, along with House members of the Judiciary Committee, will hold its first (and likely only) public hearing on the bill, and while it’s too late to sign up to testify in opposition in person, written objections can still be submitted to the committee through Friday, October 13th at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time using the email address [email protected].
GOAL executive director Jim Wallace says HD 4607 is a “slightly less toxic” version of the original bill written and introduced by Rep. Michael Day, which was met with a buzzsaw of opposition back in the summer from both gun owners and law enforcement groups. GOAL staff have been working through the weekend to go over every sentence of the bill before the public hearing, and have provided gun owners with an invaluable summary of what they’ve discovered to date. On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co we’re going through some of their findings, including new prohibitions and restrictions on the right to carry, gun licensing, and a major expansion of the state’s “red flag” law.
Under HD 4607, almost anyone can file for an Extreme Risk Protection Order, not just law enforcement or immediate family members. In addition to those categories, licensed physicians, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nurse practitioners, certified clinical nurse specialists, certified psychiatric clinical nurse specialists, licensed psychiatrists, licensed psychologists, licensed mental health counselors, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed independent clinical social workers, licensed certified social workers, a principal or assistant principal of an elementary school or secondary school, administrators of a college or university where the respondent is enrolled, and employers are all empowered to file an ERPO request with the local court system.
Like other “red flag” laws, HD 4607 allows for an emergency hearing without notifying the subject of the petition, and if a judge finds that the individual in question poses a threat to themselves or others they can have their lawfully-owned firearms confiscated for up to ten days before they get their day in court. Since ERPOs are civil, not criminal matters, no representation will be provided if the subject can’t afford to hire an attorney. And in a twist that I haven’t seen in many other “red flag” laws, GOAL says that once an order has expired, the “Local Authority can still deny to return your property if they deem you ‘unsuitable'”; a glaring red flag of its own.
That’s not the only place in HD 4607 where “suitability” comes into play. GOAL’s analysis indicates that Day and his anti-gun allies are trying to use a “suitability” requirement to once again impose arbitrary and capricious standards on gun owners that can be easily abused and exploited by local authorities.
Removes the 90 day grace period for expired licenses. Adds to the prohibited list a Biden initiative for anyone who has been appointed a guardian or conservator. It also reaffirms “suitability” in an apparent violation of Bruen. Suitability will not apply to a “long permit” unless the licensing authority petitions a court.
The onerous training mandates in HD 4420 are back in play as well, though GOAL believes that the mandates have been tucked away in a section dealing with firearms instructors, not their customers.
The mandates from HD.4420 are still in place, but are sort of hidden under the qualifications of an instructor.
- The safe use, handling and storage of firearms.
- Methods for securing and childproofing firearms.
- The applicable laws relating to the possession, transportation and storage of firearms.
- Knowledge of operation, potential dangers and basic competency in the ownership and use of firearms.
- 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.
Remember, in Massachusetts, you must have a license to both keep and carry a handgun, so every gun owner in the state with a license to carry would be subject to these training mandates. As firearms instructor and Massachusetts resident Charlie Cook told Bearing Arms recently, the live-fire mandate alone is going to cause huge headaches for gun owners new and old, given the lack of publicly accessible ranges in the state.
As bad as HD 4607 is, there could be even worse on the way. The state Senate is working on a gun control bill of its own, to be introduced at a yet-to-be-determined date, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it fills in some of the gaps in HD 4607’s umbrella of anti-gun language. The House bill, for example, doesn’t spend a lot of time creating new “gun-free zones”, but the Senate may very well have its own laundry list of “sensitive places” where senators want lawful gun owners to be prohibited from bearing arms in self-defense, along with their own restrictions on commonly-owned arms and new mandates on gun owners.
Second Amendment activists shouldn’t wait for the other shoe to drop before weighing in on HD 4607. Even if you can’t make it to Tuesday’s hearing, submit your written opposition using the email address above, follow the Gun Owners Action League at GOAL.org to stay up to date, and use your First Amendment rights to stand up in support of your Second Amendment freedoms.