Governor Patrick files Mass. gun safety bill (Update)
Governor Deval Patrick today filed what his administration calls “common sense” gun safety legislation in an effort to put an end to gun violence in Massachusetts.
The bill would enhance background checks, close licensing loopholes, reduce access to high-powered rounds of ammunition and prevent illegal firearm possession.
Patrick’s bill comes on the same day President Barack Obama proposed a new assault weapons ban and mandatory background checks for all gun buyers.
Gun bill bullet points:
It would enhance background checks by bringing Massachusetts into compliance with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. State courts would have to transmit mental health records to the state’s criminal justice information system so that the federal government could include the information in a national registry all states access before issuing gun licenses.
Reduce access to high-powered rounds of ammunition.
Gun show loophole
The bill would require gun buyers to undergo background checks at gun shows, closing what is often referred to as a “gun show loophole.”
Dealers could sell no more than one weapon to each licensed buyer each month.
It would create tiered punishments for people who have different weapons on school property and let police make arrests without a warrant to “quickly diffuse a dangerous situation.”
It would create four new crimes: assault and battery by means of a firearm, assault by means of a firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm and commission of a violent misdemeanor while in possession of a weapon.
The bill coincides with the legislative momentum building in Massachusetts and across the country to strengthen gun laws in the wake of last month’s Newtown, CT shooting in which 28 people – mostly young children – were killed.
In the 2014 budget Patrick files next week, he will include a $5 million increase for mental health programs that promote public safety and increase awareness about treatment.
“Mental illness is a disease that can be treated, and our communities are safer when the appropriate services and supports are available for people in need,” Patrick said in a statement. “I am encouraged by the palpable consensus in our legislature that the time for action is now. All of us must pull in the same direction to bring about real change in this state and across the country.”
Menino: Work on guns just beginning
With both President Barack Obama and Governor Patrick proposing changes to the country’s gun controls, Mayor Thomas Menino spoke out today in support of the national effort, but urged caution that the work to reduce gun violence is not over.
“Now is not the time to let up. Now is the time not to forget Newtown, Aurora, Woolson Street, Humboldt Avenue. Now is the time to turn words into action. Now is the time to mobilize the 1 million people who signed our demand of plan petition for the sake of the 33 lives lost everyday to gun violence, for the sake of a 13-year-old boy who was shot tragically last week in our city,” Menino said.
Menino serves as co-chair of the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Shortly after the Newtown school shooting, the organization started a petition calling for increased controls on guns.
Speaking at the Parkman House, Menino anticipated a battle over Obama’s proposal from the National Rifle Association. He urged lawmakers in Washington to stand up to the organization and pass the measures.
“We will hold all members of congress accountable no matter what party they belong to,” Menino said. “And we will not allow one organization to hijack our government.”