Massachusetts House Speaker Ron Mariano learned a lesson from this summer’s rollout of HD 4420, the sweeping gun control bill that was ultimately pulled back and redrafted after blistering criticism from gun owners and police chiefs across the state. Unfortunately, Mariano and Rep. Michael Day, the chief author of both HD 4420 and its slightly modified successor HD 4607, learned the wrong lesson from the summer snafu they initiated.
The lawmakers should have actually listened to their critics, but instead, the pair seem to have focused on the amount of noise opponents generated, and have decided that their biggest mistake was not ramming HD 4420 through the state House as quickly as possible, which gave Second Amendment supporters time to organize in opposition. This time around Mariano and Day are wasting no time at all in bringing HD 4607 to the floor for a vote. After a single public hearing last week, Mariano is expected to bring HD 4607 up for a final vote on Wednesday this week, despite the vociferous objections from groups like the Gun Owners Action League and the unanimous disapproval from the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.
According to House Speaker Ron Mariano, the gun control bill, also known as An Act modernizing firearm laws, which last week was the subject of a Ways and Means Committee hearing, will have the support required to head for the state Senate when he brings it to the floor this week.“We’ve talked to the members. We had two meetings with the members in the committee. We aired all of the questions that were posed around the first bill,” Mariano said.Offered by Stoneham Rep. Michael Day, the bill would broadly expand a list of banned firearms, adding most popular AR-15 styles to a list of “assault style weapons.” It would also require licensed concealed carry holders to secure permission before entering another’s home with a firearm and require additional training for license holders. The bill would expand the number of people allowed to activate the state’s so-called red-flag laws and expand the state’s firearms registration requirements.The push for stricter gun laws — in a state known for some of the nation’s most stringent ownership and concealed carry requirements — comes following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last summer in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, a decision which found most extraordinary gun license requirements were at odds with the 2nd Amendment.During last week’s hearing, lawmakers learned from Mark Leahy, former chief of the Northborough Police Department and the executive director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, that his organization strongly opposes the bill. It simply won’t reduce crime, Leahy told the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.“Earlier today our membership met. We ultimately polled our members concerning HD.4607 and the result was an unprecedented unanimous vote to not support this bill,” Leahy said.
Mariano’s shrugging of that “unprecedented” vote by the chiefs, telling WCVB over the weekend that “it’s a bit troubling” to him that the police association isn’t on board with his anti-civil rights push.
“I do think and I do believe that it will make the streets safer. As a law enforcement officer goes into a domestic violence situation, why wouldn’t he want to know how many guns are registered in the household, why wouldn’t he want to know what he was walking into?”
Maybe because law enforcement officers know that lawful gun owners aren’t the ones driving violence in Massachusetts? Instead, as Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden admitted over the weekend, a small number of people are responsible for an outsized portion of violent crime, and they keep showing up again and again in police reports and courtrooms, only to get a slap on the wrist and be sent on their way.
Day’s bill won’t fix this problem. In fact, it’s only going to make things worse by taking finite police and prosecutorial resources away from those repeat offenders and re-directing them toward legal gun owners. If Mariano and Day had bothered to actually listen to the complaints from those gun owners and police chiefs they wouldn’t have been blindsided by their continued objections, but that was never going to happen. After all, public safety is just the stated reason for this legislation. The real goal is to cripple the right to keep and bear arms, and despite Mariano’s confidence that he has the votes to do so, Massachusetts gun owners need to keep up their pressure on lawmakers to do the right thing and reject the Lawful Citizens Imprisonment Act.