Given the lopsided 37-3 vote in favor of S2572, I’m not sure why the Massachusetts Senate even bothered with floor debate before approving their gun control bill on Thursday evening. Yes, lawmakers had dozens of amendments to debate, but it really doesn’t matter that much what language was in the bill when it received the green light from senators, given that the next step is for a conference committee to hammer out the differences between S2572 and the bill that was approved by House members last fall.
Still, legislators spent almost 8 hours of debate over the bill, which did feature a handful of senators who expressed their objections alongside Democrats who insisted that the legislation is designed to withstand a court challenge.
The package filed by the Newton lawmaker hit the Senate floor at 12:30 p.m. Thursday. Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-1st Essex/Middlesex, wasted no time pointing out some of the issues that Republicans see with the bill, including that it did not get its own public hearing.
Creem’s proposal represents the Senate’s long-anticipated response to the bill that cleared the House last fall.
The Republican floor leader argued that lawmakers were headed down “a very dangerous path” by not holding a public hearing on the Creem proposal, which was assembled following many private meetings. Creem said the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security held a hearing on other gun bills last year, giving people interested in the topic an opportunity to be heard.
Creem said the principles underlying the bill were “concern for the safety of our residents, respect for the Second Amendment, and a focus on the root cause of gun crime and gun accidents, and a commitment to equity underlies each of the policies included in this comprehensive bill.”
She added that her proposal is supported by both gun safety advocates and law enforcement.
The Massachusetts’ arm of the National Rifle Association called the bill “punitive” and didn’t support it or any of the 79 amendments senators filed, claiming the bill was “so convoluted that there is no way it can be fixed with amendments.”
Creem said she consulted with experts “who specialize in Second Amendment-related issues, including the attorney general’s office,” and was confident that the bill meets constitutional muster.
If the legislation really did show respect for the Second Amendment it would have been thrashed by gun control groups and supported by organizations like the Gun Owners Action League and Commonwealth 2A instead of the other way around. It’s also laughable that Creem pointed to Attorney General Andrea Campbell’s office as Second Amendment specialists, given her contempt for the Bruen decision and support for all kinds of restrictions on lawful gun owners. Campbell’s campaign website details some of her anti-gun positions, including live-fire training mandates for all gun owners, limits on annual and lifetime gun purchases (to combat “gun hoarding”, in her words), and expanding the state’s ban on so-called assault weapons.
Those provisions may very well end up being included in whatever comes out of the conference committee in the coming days. Whatever the final version of the House and Senate “compromise” looks like, it’s sure to meet with multiple legal challenges once it’s signed into law by Gov. Maura Healey. We’ll be talking with the folks from GOAL about their next steps on Bearing Arms Cam & Co in the coming days, because this fight is far from over. Gun owners may be ignored by their lawmakers in Boston, but they’ll still be heard by federal judges when the first lawsuits are filed.