If Gun Owners Action League executive director Jim Wallace and I had gone through every problematic aspect of S2572 on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, we would have been talking for hours. We ended up touching on just a few of the lowlights of the legislation on today’s show, but Wallace says the big takeaway for gun owners in the Bay State is that this bill is just as unworkable and unfixable as the anti-gun bill approved by the Massachusetts House last fall.
In fact, as bad as S2572 is at the moment, it’s likely to get even worse before the full Senate votes on the bill (without so much as a single public hearing ahead of time) later this week. Monday was the deadline for amendments to be offered, and there are now more than 75 potential additions to the legislation. Some of those are aimed at making the bill slightly less awful, but the vast majority of them are intended to place even more restrictions on lawful gun owners.
The original version of S2572, for instance, doesn’t mention any live-fire training mandate, but an amendment offered by Sen. Adam Gomez would require a “minimum of at least 5 hours of live discharge of firearms, rifles, and shotguns at a licensed gun club, including the discharge of at least 50 rounds of ammunition” before a resident can be approved for their firearms license. In Massachusetts, that license is required to both keep and bear arms, so every prospective gun owner in the state would be subjected to this mandate going forward. That’s a huge problem given the lack of publicly accessible ranges in the state. In fact, Wallace says this mandate alone would be enough to curtail the right to keep and bear arms going forward.
“We’ve actually had a different discussion with the chair of Ways and Means in the Senate and other senators. Because if you’re going to mandate that private clubs [open themselves up to host training], it’s more or less a taking. So now the state is going to have to financially support the clubs and accept liability. So they’re going to have to buy insurance to cover all of these clubs for the liability to do this. As you and I know, accidents are extraordinarily rare, but insurance is still extraordinarily expensive. So the state is going to have to cover that, or otherwise good luck [getting clubs to go along].”
Wallace went on to say that a former state representative (and 2A friendly) did some calculations and figured out that if every gun owner in the state was forced to go through five hours of live-fire training, it would take three years for them to comply… and that’s with every public and private range operating 24/7.
Wallace also questioned whether the author of this proposed amendment has ever spent time at a range. Five hours is a pretty long time, especially since the amendment requires the discharge of 50 rounds of ammunition.
“What are you going to do for four and a half of those five hours,” he asked with a smile. “Either way it’s just nonsensical.”
The same could be said for S2572 in general, not just this specific amendment. Meanwhile, the process of approving S2572 is downright infuriating. Wallace revealed that the legislation is technically presented as an amendment to the House bill that was approved last fall, not a standalone bill, which allows lawmakers to avoid the normal committee process and any public hearings that would allow gun owners to state their objections. Instead, the bill was crafted behind closed doors, will be voted on with little or no debate, and once approved, will be in the hands of a conference committee that will reconcile the House and Senate versions outside of public view. Once the conference committee has hashed out any disagreements, they’ll present the combined bill to both chambers, where it will receive an up-or-down vote with no chance for lawmakers to amend it or for the public to weigh in during a hearing.
“Everything in the House bill and everything in the Senate bill is up for grabs,” Wallace tells Bearing Arms.
So what can gun owners do? Wallace is encouraging Second Amendment supporters in the state to not only contact their own state senators, but the office of Senate President Karen Spilka, who he says is the only lawmaker who has the chance to slow this down and at least provide for a public hearing ahead of a vote.
Wallace is also urging Massachusetts gun owners to contact their local police chief and ask them if they support this monstrosity. Unlike the House bill, which was unanimously opposed by the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, S2572 was introduced with the backing of the association, but Wallace says that the decision to support the bill came from the association’s executive committee and not the members as a whole. When the House bill was first introduced, the police chiefs association polled every one of its members to get their thoughts, but declined to do so before giving the thumbs up to S2572.
“Their legislative committee wasn’t even asked. Didn’t even get a chance to review the legislation before the committee supported it. So there’s a little chicanery going on there,” Wallace revealed.
It sounds to me like there’s a lot of shady stuff going on with S2572 ahead of the Senate’s anticipated vote on Thursday, and it’s not limited to the chiefs of police association. This entire process stinks to high heaven, and if Wallace is right, the worst is yet to come.