Feb 23 2014

MA Guns for (Even More) Gun Control


Massachusetts has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, along with California and New York. In 2004, Governor Mitt Romney made permanent the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban. There’s also a long list of banned handguns that gets longer every year, including most Glocks, all Kel-tecs, all Hi-Points, and all Taurus handguns. Gun owners are actually better off looking at the state’s list of what is approved. The list is trivial and is mostly based on cosmetic features. For example, a Sig P238 with rosewood grips is okay; the same Sig P238 in any other color is non-compliant. All MA compliant firearms are required to pass a “drop test” (the firearm is dropped from a certain height to see if it fires), have a loaded chamber indicator, and an external safety. Some firearms meet these requirements but are approved for law-enforcement only. Minors are not allowed to possess BB guns or air rifles. In fact, selling a BB gun to a minor can get you six months in prison.

A "Smart Gun" prototype

A “Smart Gun” prototype

Despite crime escalating every time a more restrictive gun law gets passed, MA politicians are at it again. Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh has proposed the city hold its first buyback program since 2006 and is calling for a statewide registry. MA does not technically require gun owners to register their firearms at this time, but a record of every sale is kept in a database that is, essentially, a registry. Other states that have taken up registration have also seen the registry used for the purpose of confiscation, a practice that has already happened in California both recently and in the 1990s, as well as Illinois, New York, and, most recently, Connecticut. Walsh states his idea is “just a registry” and “that’s it” – but also told local news that his aim is to find out “where the guns are” to get them off the street.

His proposals come after a 14-year-old accidentally shot and killed his 9-year-old brother. The firearm belonged to the teen, who lived in a high crime area where gang violence was prevalent. However, the police were already aware of the teen after several calls to the local station and a report that he had run away from a Department of Youth Services lock-up facility. Naturally, the fact that the police were already aware of the violence was not widely publicized.

The city also saw a spike in gang-related homicides, which are of course committed by people who do not follow laws and will not be interested in getting $100 for their firearm. Despite a new increase in crime with each new MA gun law, Walsh and other anti-gunners claim this is because criminals get firearms from out of state in order to avoid laws. But even this argument makes obvious the fact that criminals do not follow laws.

In the last year, Massachusetts legislature has proposed several new gun control measures – in fact, 60 new bills have been introduced and continue to be the topic of discussion in public hearings and private legislature meetings. One of the bills would require all gun owners to purchase liability insurance for up to one million dollars; another would require microstamping of ammunition. Other bills would mimic elements of the NY Safe Act, requiring mental health information to be given to the police and further limiting the amount of rounds a gun can hold. A candidate for Attorney General has also pledged (along with Senator Markey) that all new firearms constructed in the state will be fitted with fingerprint identification technology.

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