Massachusetts infringement effort goes way too far

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Between the Bruen decision and the Heller decision, there’s a particular framework that gun control laws would need to operate within if they want a hope in hell of standing up to legal scrutiny. One such thing would be some kind of historic analog. Another would be whether or not the gun is in common use.

Massachusetts, however, is a state that doesn’t seem to care at all about that.

Ironic, really, when you consider the Revolution started there and kicked off with an attempt at gun confiscation, but I digress.

Now Massachusetts is considering a bill that mimics all the worst parts of carry laws we’ve seen elsewhere and includes an assault weapon ban just for flavor.

The state House Speaker announced the lower chamber will move forward with a controversial new gun control bill which would ban new purchases of AR-15s.

Formerly known as HD.4420, the new bill introduced by state Rep. Michael Day offers many of the same provisions seen in the bill the Stoneham Democrat released in June. Day toured the state, making 11 stops, and met with gun rights groups in recent weeks before releasing a new version on Thursday. According to House Speaker Ron Mariano, the complaints of gun rights groups were heard.

“This is a huge pile of crap,” Jim Wallace, the Executive Director of the Gun Owners Action League, told the Herald after the bill was announced.

Despite the previous bill being mired in legislative limbo since Day first offered it, gun advocates responded with alarm when they learned the bill would ban them from carrying otherwise lawfully possessed concealed firearms on most private property without the express permission of property owners. The new bill changes that language to just include private homes, not public places like bars and restaurants, according to Day.

The bill also reinstates a ban on so-called assault weapons, similar to the rules instituted by the federal government in 1994.

“Those belong on the battlefield, not on our streets. So we’ve updated the assault weapons ban based on features that make semiautomatic weapons as lethal as automatic weapons,” Day said.

People like Day keep saying that, yet they haven’t shown a single battlefield where an AR-15 has been deployed as an issued firearm.

Further, semiautomatic rifles and automatic rifles are very different things and there’s really no feature, particularly under current law, that allows a semi-auto to be “as lethal”–assuming we’re accepting that rate of fire somehow equates to lethality–as a full-auto.

It’s funny, though, how the AR-15 is at once insufficient to resist a tyrannical federal government yet a tool of the battlefield too deadly for civilian hands. The two seem to contradict one another, at least to some degree.

Regardless, people are upset that Massachusetts is doing both the assault weapon ban and these particular carry restrictions. They should be.

For years, the practice was for lawful carry to be permitted unless a business owner explicitly forbade it. Some states didn’t accept even that, but many states would allow a sign at the door to be sufficient to legally prohibit carrying a firearm on the premises.

Now, though, the attempt is to shift things so that concealed carry is prohibited even in places that are ambivalent one way or the other.

We don’t do that with any other right, by the way. The assumption has always been your rights are respected unless told otherwise. While a business can limit free speech on their property, for example, we don’t require them to put a sign up permitting it explicitly.

Now, it should be noted that HD4420–the predecessor for this bill–was pulled by Day after scores of gun owners and local law enforcement loudly pointed out the fundamental flaws with the bill. With the first public hearing for HD 4607 scheduled for next Tuesday, it’s time for Second Amendment supporters to make some more noise.

This bill ignores both Heller and Bruen, so there’s every reason to believe that even if it were passed it wouldn’t survive the judicial system’s review of it.

But the best hope is to push lawmakers in Massachusetts and elsewhere to stop trying to infringe on our rights in the first place.