It looks like the Massachusetts House is heading for a vote next Wednesday on HD 4607, the latest version of the “Lawful Citizens Imprisonment Act” that was first introduced back in July before being pulled back and slightly retooled in the wake of overwhelming opposition from gun owners and law enforcement across the state.
Those groups are still opposed to the new and not-improved gun control bill released late last week, which is already causing headaches and heartburn for some Democratic lawmakers. But there’s another problem for Democratic lawmakers in the state; while polls may show majority public support for the new restrictions on lawful gun owners, many of the voters expressing approval may not understand exactly how those prohibitions will be enforced.
Back in February, Gov. Maura Healey announced the formation of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Black Empowerment, and earlier this month the group held its first public hearing in Boston. At that meeting, residents in high-crime communities like Dorchester and Roxbury weighed in with their concerns on crime and public safety, but their views often appeared to be at odds with each other.
More than 100 people attended the meeting, and attendees were split between community residents and members of nonprofit organizations.
Prison reform was raised as a major issue. Speakers discussed Black residents being disproportionately incarcerated, unethical treatment within prisons and the idea that the city should not build new prisons.
“You are sitting right now in the most incarcerated corridor in the commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said Andrea James, a criminal justice reform organization leader. “So we’re here to represent that collective of our people. … Please, work with us.”
Residents also stressed the need to end gun violence and urged more gun control, aid for families impacted by violence and policing in schools.
“In addition to gun control … we really [need] to put something in place for those families that are impacted,” said Clementina Chéry, founder of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, who spoke about her nonprofit and youth gun violence. “We are losing at both ends.”
You can have fewer people in prison, and you can have more gun control laws, but if you want those laws to be enforced then you can’t have it both ways. The gun control movement is predicated on the idea of putting more laws on the books, many of them felony-level offenses, and all of them non-violent, possessory crimes like carrying a gun without a license or possessing an ammunition magazine that can hold more rounds than the state allows.
Gun control is completely antithetical to criminal justice reform, but Democrats around the country have been able to hoodwink their base into believing both are possible by enacting “reforms” like no-bail measures while imposing new criminal penalties on gun owners. The result is a system that spits repeat offenders back onto the streets and makes it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights to armed self-defense when those bad actors appear at their doorstep or try to carjack them at a red light.
You don’t have to be a criminologist to see the inherent contradiction between the push for de-incarceration and the criminalization of our right to keep and bear arms, but too many on the left would rather stick their head in the sands rather than confront that reality… including in Massachusetts. If the forces of criminal justice reform really want to reduce the number of offenders behind bars, the most important thing they could do right now would be to forcefully and publicly call out those elected Democrats who want to turn a fundamental civil right into a felony-level offense.