By Jake McGuigan
Massachusetts lawmakers are so drastically overreaching with a 140-page gun control proposal that local police departments are flashing lights and blaring sirens because it is just that bad.
“This Bill does not address criminals,” the post reads. “Rather it focuses on making criminals out of law-abiding citizens and further hampers police agencies from combating true crime.”
Massachusetts state Rep. Michael Day introduced what could be described as the most-sweeping gun control proposal ever introduced to a governing body in the United States. He submitted the bill after a nine-month “listening tour” across the Bay State but it is clear the only voices he was listening to were those ballyhooing gun control.
“A plethora of blatantly unconstitutional proposals litter this travesty of a Bill, too many to mention here; however, of particular egregiousness is the criminalization of carrying firearms in certain so-called ‘prohibited locations’, including businesses and private properties, EVEN WHILE HOLDING A VALID LICENSE TO CARRY,” the Ware Police Department post reads. “Not even off-duty police officers will be exempted from this appalling mandate.”
Ware police are repeating the same warnings that NSSF and Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) have been telling residents and licensed firearm retailers of the Commonwealth. This isn’t a crime control bill. This is an outright gun grab that would trample the rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.
“Massachusetts’ state legislature is forgetting that a revolution was born in their state when a tyrannical government attempted to confiscate firearms from its citizens in Concord and Lexington more than 200 years ago,” NSSF’s Mark Oliva told Firearms News about the bill.
Ware is a town of just over 10,000 between Worcester, home to some of Kahr Arms production, and Springfield and about 80 miles west of Boston. Springfield, of course, is home to Smith and Wesson, the firearm manufacturer. Savage Arms is headquartered nearby in Westfield, Mass., just 30 or so miles from Ware. The Ware police are seriously concerned about HD 4420, enough that they’re actively encouraging citizens to get involved.
They’re not alone. Plymouth, Mass., Chief Dana A. Flynn wrote a letter urging state lawmakers to walk away from the bill.
“This bill seems more designed to invade the privacy and vandalize and confiscate the property of law-abiding citizens than it does protecting them.”
“We believe that public input and engagement are crucial in shaping legislation that reflects the diverse perspectives and concerns of our citizens,” The Ware Police DepartmentFacebook post reads. “Therefore, we encourage you, the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, who have a long and storied history of throwing off the chains of our oppressors (let not this tradition die in the hands of our generation), to actively participate in the democratic process by voicing your opinions and taking appropriate actions to safeguard your rights.”
Unconstitutional Gun Grab
NSSF warned that HD 4420 isn’t the run-of-the-mill gun control bill that only seeks to limit where a firearm can be legally carried. It’s much more and much worse. HD 4420 would:
- Authorize the state attorney general to empower state police to forcibly confiscate all post-1994 firearms.
- Expand the definition of already banned “assault weapons” to include a single cosmetic feature that has no bearing on the function of a firearm.
- Require all lawfully-possessed firearms to be registered with the state.
- Require firearm owners to notify the state if a firearm is modified even if just adding optics or a sling to hunting rifle.
- Require the serialization and registration all magazines.
- Require notification to police if magazines are lost, stolen or destroyed.
- Ban “downloadable gun code” from the Internet, a First Amendment violation.
- Restrict where a concealed carry permit holder can lawfully carry a firearm, effectively nowhere.
The legislation is so poorly-drafted that hunters wouldn’t be allowed to hunt on their own property unless they post it as open to carrying firearms. As the Ware police pointed out, there’s no exception for police, meaning off-duty law enforcement wouldn’t be able to carry their firearm and respond to emergencies.
“We recognize that the right to bear arms is a fundamental aspect of our nation’s history and an essential component of personal and collective security,” Ware police wrote. “As members of the police force, we are committed to upholding the law and defending the rights of our community members.”
The police department noted that these efforts are counterproductive to community safety.
“Gun Free zones have been proven to have no effect on stopping crime, in fact they embolden criminals to seek out these areas as soft targets of opportunity, where their chances of meeting resistance will be minimal,” they wrote.
Speed Zone Ahead
Rep. Day expected his bill to sail through Massachusetts’ statehouse. Antigun Democrats have supermajorities in both chambers. That might be why Rep. Day scheduled the largest auditorium in the Capitol building for a joint hearing of both the state House of Representatives and Senate Judiciary Committees for June 29 and 30, and then for July 13 and 14. He hit a road bump though. No Judiciary Committee hearing was publicly advertised for any of those dates.
Rep. Day is keeping up the pressure to force the legislation through, even as public opposition is ramping up. Half of the House is meeting behind closed doors to discuss the bill on Monday, July 17 and the other half on Tuesday, July 18. An aide to Massachusetts House Speaker Ron Mariano, a bill backer, said he is trying to grease the skids.
“To encourage candid discussions, we will organize the meetings by Floor Division and they will be Members only,” the aide told media.
Rep. Day and Speaker Mariano said they ultimately want the bill passed and ready for signature before the end of the month, but Rep. Day told media his rush was so intense, he needed the legislation passed “yesterday.”
The Massachusetts-based Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) said HD 4420 is a “historic attack against the entire 2A community being pushed by House Speaker Ron Mariano and Chairman Michael Day.
“There is no telling when the Speaker may try to ram this through. Although we have been told the bill will have a hearing, we have been told a lot of things, most of which have turned out to be intentionally false,” the group wrote last week. “The bill is so egregious that it is impossible to amend, so don’t try.”
GOAL is reaching out to Massachusetts gun owners. They published a lengthy video last week, explaining their opposition to the bill and the need for voters to call their elected representatives and senators in Boston. The message was clear. There is no fixing this bill and the effects would be disastrous for Constitutional rights.
NSSF is also urging Massachusetts licensed dealers and residents to speak up. Speaker Mariano is pulling lawmakers behind closed doors but not listening to voters. Speaker Mariano and Rep. Day have lost police support for their gun grab. Voters need to tell them to heed the flashing warning lights and stop this unconstitutional bill.
Jake McGuigan is the Managing Director, Government Relations – State Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.