When I first heard that Massachusetts was going to hold a series of Gun Law Listening Tour stops, I immediately thought to myself the whole thing’s got to be a sham. The Massachusetts House Judiciary Chair, Michael Day, was hosting the events all over the Bay State and at this point they’re more than halfway through with their stops, with two remaining. At first the tour had little warning and gave people not a lot of time to prepare to attend the events. The first few “stops” seemed biased and one-sided. But, after some correspondence with Day’s office and seeing firearm industry members as well as advocates invited to participate on panels, maybe the listening tour will garner some benefits for gun owners in the Bay State.
There was one stop on the tour over the winter in January, and then the more recent meetings started up again back on March 20th, 2023. The first two panels included no one speaking as a Second Amendment supporter, advocate, or even someone who benefitted from the possession of firearms in a self-defense scenario. To further sully my view on the way the listening tour was going, the Massachusetts chapter of Moms Demand Action had Day speak at one of their events at the State House, and I was thinking this showed a bit of a bias towards supporting the anti-civil liberties crowd.
Today, Massachusetts Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, alongside survivors of gun violence, and community partners gathered for their annual advocacy day at the statehouse to meet with lawmakers and advocate for gun safety measures to be passed during this legislative session. House Judiciary Chair Michael Day and Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem shared the Legislature’s commitment to passing comprehensive gun safety legislation this session. This year’s advocacy day also coincides with the 10 year celebration of Moms Demand Action.
This all caused me to reach out to Day’s office for some more information. When I reached out back in early April on the 12th, I asked the following questions:
- For the sessions, past and present, how do you select panelists? To date, there appears to have been no actual Second Amendment supporters invited to speak. For example, the guns and domestic violence event, I know a woman in Connecticut who is a survivor of a violent attack in her home by someone she knew, and she was only able to save herself by use of a firearm. There are plenty of people who are supporters of the Second Amendment that I feel would have enhanced the conversations that occurred.
- Going forward, the postponed event on hunting and sporting purposes of firearms, what groups and individuals have you reached out to in order to have the actual sentiments of hunters and sport shooters fairly represented?
- Is it possible that you provide me a list of all speakers past and then going forward, including their affiliations, this way I can report who spoke about what when?
- Are there any recordings of the events that I could get access to?
- And lastly, can I get a commitment that you’ll include as many pro-Second Amendment persons on your panels as you have that are against the civil right to keep and bear arms? In short – It is my opinion that gun owners have not been represented. Can you make this promise to me in the spirit of non-bias?
Crickets. No reply. So I emailed Day’s office again on April 20th, 2023, asking for a response to my former message. On May 2nd, a legislative aid from Day’s office finally responded.
Thank you for reaching out to Representative Day. I apologize for the delayed response, it’s been a hectic couple of weeks.
Our goal is to understand the impact of our firearm laws on our residents. To select panelists, we identify practitioners, experts, and researchers to gather multiple perspectives. We also tap the connections of the local delegation to ensure the conversation includes the groups who are most familiar with the topic. As a State Representative, Chair Day’s mandate is to focus on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
In Barnstable, our focus was on the intersection of firearms and suicide, as suicide is the leading cause of gun deaths in MA. We invited the groups who deal with this intersection every day. We had a local police chief who is in charge of licensing. We invited The Nan Project and The Samaritans who work every day with people who are at risk of committing suicide to explain what the people they serve think about the issue. We then had a DPH representative who studies the stats behind the relationship between firearms and suicide. We followed a similar format in Worcester when we listened to the relationship between firearms and domestic violence.
For Greenfield, the focus is on recreational firearm ownership. To that end, we invited a firearm dealer, a local police chief, and a retired environmental law enforcement officer who is now an avid hunter and gun collector.
We aim to have coverage of each event, so those who cannot travel can still stay up to date on the events. We post links to that coverage on the Representative’s social media accounts. At the onset of each program, Representative Day introduces the panel and gives their affiliation and a brief biography. For that reason, I encourage you to attend in person or view them online. Here are his pages that include links to some of that coverage:
Facebook: State Representative Michael Day
Regarding the rest of your requests, I am happy to bring your comments to the boss. We are in a variety of ongoing conversations with groups across the ideological spectrum on all issues relating to gun violence. We are committed to having a comprehensive, open conversation with all groups who want to be involved, so I appreciate you reaching out and hope to see you at a future stop.
The evening of May 2nd happened to be the next Gun Law Listening Tour date. As reported over at News2A.com by colleague and friend Charlie Cook, from Riding Shotgun With Charlie, the May 2nd stop on the tour had actual Second Amendment supporters included on the panel.
On May 2, 2023, the third stop of the Massachusetts Gun Law Listening Tour was held at Greenfield Community College in the Pioneer Valley area of western Massachusetts. It is nice that the Commonwealth is holding these at various locations. Some of the attendees and even a panelist drove nearly 3 hours to get there, and had to make a day of it. The previous stop on Gun and Domestic Violence was in central MA and was well attended, however, the five panelists were mostly DV survivors who were also “anti-gun.”
This event was a bit different. The panelists were Toby Leary from Cape Gun Works, a former environmental police officer, and a town police officer from western MA. It was a more balanced panel considering the topic. These participants were folks who own firearms, there was a retailer of firearms, and all included are very well trained and educated about guns, gun laws, how the sale/purchase system works, and licensing schemes.
There were representatives and members of both the pro-gun side and the anti-gun side as well. The evening had much less of the red shirted commie mommies and more of the #TealTeam2 from The DC Project. There were several other freedom supporters in the audience, including a firearm manufacturer, a man who had lots of information on licensing and how they’re all unneeded, as well as several passionate citizens who are concerned about our civil rights.
Since the May 2nd event, which included panelists who identify as pro-Second Amendment, there have been two more events featuring gun rights advocates on panels. Considering how the listening tour started out back in January, having three stops on the tour including voices in support of civil liberties, this is actually huge. However, there also was a May 20th tweet from Day, chronicling a meeting with gun-grabber Gabby Giffords.
I met with @GabbyGiffords today to discuss her thoughts on how to improve firearm safety laws in Massachusetts and the country. Congresswoman Giffords is indefatigable in her efforts to turn her personal tragedy into positive change for all. I am in awe of her perseverance. pic.twitter.com/uNDtLq1MJ6
— Michael Day (@mikeday4rep) May 20, 2023
Is this another sign of Day being chummy with the anti-civil liberties crowd? How will this all fit into legislative plans for the rest of the session?
To be perfectly honest, I did think that this listening tour was just going to be an exercise in futility, giving the legislature in Massachusetts a chance to turn around and say, “Hey, we listened to the people and this is what we came up with.” Of course the “what they came up with” would amount to more restrictions on the liberties of the people.
The response from Day’s office is consistent with there being a big push to clean up and fix the laws, which is how the listening tour was pitched in the first place. Why it took Day’s office several stops until Second Amendment voices were included is not known, nor is it known why there have not been such advocates on every panel. But, this is a lot more than I expected.
What’s this all mean concerning the series of events? Hard to tell. The anti-gun crowd is pushing for live-fire being required in training, as well as pushing for restrictions that Massachusetts already has, such as storage requirements. The anti-gun folks in Massachusetts don’t seem to know what they want, often advocating for laws that are already in place – in the most violent state in New England – and are ineffectual. Given the way these events have been going, Day cannot come up with the conclusion that more laws are going to make the people in the Bay State safer.
There is a huge opportunity for Day’s office to advocate for making the laws in Massachusetts make sense to the every-day person. Something like getting rid of prohibitions on carrying a firearm when on an off-road vehicle, for example, is a ridiculous law that could get repealed. Day could introduce measures to make the permitting system more streamlined, and remove discretionary interest balances that occur on the local levels when issuing permits. Magazine limitations, approved gun roster, scary features on rifles, mandatory storage laws; all ripe for repeal. Are we likely to see reversal of some of the crazy laws in Massachusetts? Probably not, however it’s a possibility. If this whole Gun Law Listening Tour is being exercised in earnest, at a minimum no new laws should be introduced.
Perhaps I have my hopes up with how things are going to shake out. Are the citizens of Massachusetts going to get railroaded with so-called Bruen response bills being introduced in the second half of the legislative session? I thought that was the case, but now I’m not so sure. We’ll just have to wait and see what comes to the people after Day gathers his findings.
For more detailed coverage of some of the Gul Law Listening Tour stops, check out these stories by Charlie Cook:
Massachusetts Gun Listening Tour. Good Idea? Or Stage for Anti-Gunners? – News2A
Finally Some 2A Supporters on Listening Tour – News2A
Same As It Ever Was, Same As It Ever Was,.. – News2A
The Massachusetts Gun Law Listening Tour Hits Lowell – News2A
For more information on the remaining Gun Law Listening Tour dates, check out Representative Michael Day’s twitter feed.
Thanks to the hard work of colleagues, stakeholders and our community leaders, we are happy to release the details of the remaining stops on our firearm safety listening tour. pic.twitter.com/Ru0RcWmcjk
— Michael Day (@mikeday4rep) May 3, 2023