Being a Second Amendment activist in a blue state is never easy, but it’s made even more difficult when dealing with media outlets that feel free to misrepresent your statements and lawmakers who are utterly clueless about the laws that are already in place. Jim Wallace and Mike Harris of the Gun Owners Action League got a firsthand reminder of those difficulties while testifying in Boston this week during a marathon hearing on dozens of gun-related bills, and joined me on Bearing Arms Cam & Co to talk about their experience.
The media misrepresentation (or at least one example of it) came during Wallace’s testimony on a bill offered by GOAL that would allow for the prosecution of prohibited persons found in possession of certain gun parts.
“We actually included things like parts because what’s happening, especially in Springfield, is they’ll go in on a drug bust and they’ll find drugs. No guns, but they’ll find like 100 Glock switches that are being used as barter in the drug trade. So we would include everything; as long as you’re a prohibited person in possession of these parts I don’t care. Go get ’em,” Wallace explained.
“But that statement I just made,” he continued, “the media cut out the part about prohibited persons, and just said ‘ghost guns… go get ’em.’ That was the edit they did to my quote,” Wallace said with exasperation.
The biased reporting (I highlighted another example yesterday) wasn’t the only part of the hearing that frustrated the pair. One of the goals of GOAL’s testimony, as Wallace explained, was to point out all of the laws that are already in place to address violent crime but aren’t being used; laws that in many cases were drafted with GOAL’s input.
“Rather than wasting our time opposing bills, in our initial three minutes of testimony we spent time on stuff that we had, but what we were trying to do in the extended testimony was actually talking about the things that exist that they’re not doing. The tools that they already have that they’re not using, that we’ve given you, and there was a lot of discussion about that.”
Wallace said there were a few lawmakers who seemed genuinely surprised and interested to learn about laws already in place that aren’t being enforced, but Harris relayed an exchange with a state senator that took place during a one-on-one meeting this week that highlighted one major problem GOAL and lawful gun owners face; an unwillingness on the part of legislators to focus their efforts on criminals.
“We gave them that bill that Jim had talked about, and said we’d like to go after these people [prohibited persons], and she said ‘Oh, I don’t know if we can do that. I don’t know if we can go after those people.’ Of course you can! That’s the whole point of this,” Harris exclaimed.
Harris believes some lawmakers are simply interested in telling their constituents they “did something,” and the specifics don’t really matter much, while other legislators are truly intent on making Massachusetts one big “gun-free zone”.
“You get all of your rights until you prove you shouldn’t have them all, you know? And that’s the theory that gun owners like us work off of, but I guess some people don’t see it that way. And some of those people sit in legislative seats,” Harris told Bearing Arms.
No votes were taken during Tuesday’s hearing, and with the legislature adjourned for much of December neither Wallace or Harris expect to see much movement on the gun bills until after the new year. But with the House already adopting an omnibus gun control bill and dozens of other bills still on tap, an intense effort to clamp down even further on lawful gun owners is just around the corner, and Massachusetts gun owners need to get ready.