Massachusetts Gun Control Bill Still Under Wraps as Deadline Looms

Townhall Media

It's been three months since Massachusetts lawmakers set up a conference committee to hammer out the differences between competing gun control bills passed by the House and Senate, and so far we've seen no sign that an agreement is at hand. But with a legislative deadline looming, is that about to change?


Massachusetts lawmakers’ stack of unfinished business continues to pile up despite the looming end of the legislative session.

There are fewer than seven weeks left before lawmakers conclude business on July 31st. Lawmakers have already sent a conference committee: a budget, a gun law reform, federal matching funds and wage transparency matters. And now we've heard the Massachusetts Senate is going to release a climate bill into the mix.

That's a lot of work to accomplish and not a lot of time to do it in, but on today's Bearing Arms Cam & Co the executive director of the Gun Owners Action League says 2A advocates shouldn't count on legislative inaction between now and the end of the session. 

"I hope they fall asleep and July 31st comes and goes. I would consider that a win. Do I think that's gonna happen? Probably not," Jim Wallace tells Bearing Arms. 

Wallace says he anticipates the final few days of the session will be frenetic, with lawmakers rushing to send dozens of bills to Gov. Maura Healey. And the path for any bill that emerges from the conference committee is relatively straightforward. There'll be no committee hearings, no amendments, and no chance for the public to testify in support or opposition to whatever's included in the bill; just a straight up or down vote in both the House and the Senate. 


Neither of the original bills adopted by the two chambers are good news for gun owners, though the House bill is substantially broader than the Senate's legislation; chock full of new "gun-free zones", licensing restrictions, and a long list of other infringements on the right to keep and bear arms. Wallace says he gets the sense that the Senate is largely uninterested in most of what the House has endorsed, but he's deeply concerned that the language of the conference committee's "compromise" is going to be made worse by legislative horsetrading on the budget bill. 

They'll start to wheel and deal, 'well, you want this in the budget, I want that in the budget. I'll move this bill for you, you move this bill for me.' That's how the system works. I won't say we're sitting in neutral, because we're always working to figure out what's going on in the building, but things are silent. 

Wallace did say that the statehouse scuttlebutt is that Rep. Michael Day, who spearheaded the House bill, is hoping to advance to the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee, and if he doesn't bring something substantial to Healey for her to sign that could be in jeopardy. 

So what can gun owners do while Day and his counterparts are working behind closed doors? Wallace has no illusions that the conference committee's bill, whatever it looks like in its final form, will be acceptable to Second Amendment supporters. Still, he says with many legislators making summer appearances in their district, gun owners and others who object to any more gun laws being put in place should look for the opportunity to speak with their senators and representatives in person to share their complaints... and to remind them that if the bill ends up infringing on the right to keep and bear arms, it's going to be challenged (and likely undone) in the courts. 


Check out the entire conversation with GOAL's Jim Wallace in the video window below, and stay tuned for more developments. I'd love to report on August 1st that the legislature adjourned without taking any action on the Second Amendment, but like Wallace, I don't think that's a realistic possibility. 

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