New gun bill opposed by Massachusetts Chiefs of Police

Gun Rights

The state’s police chiefs do not support the Legislature’s efforts to strengthen Massachusetts gun laws — and it’s unanimous.

Mark Leahy, former chief of the Northboro Police Department and the executive director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, said his organization recently met and voted to come out against Bill HD.4607, or An Act modernizing firearm laws.

The bill simply won’t reduce crime, Leahy said.

“Earlier today our membership met. We ultimately polled our members concerning HD.4607 and the result was an unprecedented unanimous vote to not support this bill,” Leahy told the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday.

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Representing all 351 Bay State cities and towns and more than 100 university police departments, the law enforcement organization was joined by dozens of gun rights advocates and constitutionalists in opposing the gun control bill during a hearing held Tuesday.

Through most of a full day of testimony, the committee heard from those speaking both for and against the bill, which would make the state’s already notoriously strict gun laws all the more rigid.

“The Massachusetts League of Women Voters supports HD.4607,” Art Desloges, speaking on behalf of the group, told the committee. “Statistically we have the lowest gun death rates nationwide, but gun violence archive reports 83 people killed by firearms in the Commonwealth through July of this year. We must get to zero. Even one person lost to gun violence is too many.”

Offered by Stoneham Rep. Michael Day, the bill would broadly expand a list of banned firearms, adding most popular AR-15 styles to a list of “assault style weapons.” It would also require licensed concealed carry holders to secure permission before entering another’s home with a firearm and require additional training for license holders. The bill would expand the number of people allowed to activate the state’s so-called red-flag laws.

The push for stricter laws comes following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last summer in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. Gun rights groups are not the least bit pleased with what they say is the state’s “tantrum” response to the court’s decision.

“HD.4607 is a massive, anti-gun bill that aims to greatly infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Massachusetts citizens,” Justin Davis, speaking on behalf of the National Rifle Association, told the committee.

Supporters of the bill, point to a recent spike in violence as the need to act. Paula St. James said her work as a psychologist has shown her the impacts of gun violence on Massachusetts communities.

“Feeling safe is a basic need for children. If this is not met it greatly affects their ability to learn and grow. The proliferation of guns and the resulting effects on our children is an urgent issue that we in the Commonwealth must address,” St. James said, speaking as a volunteer for the group Moms Demand Action.

FOR SALE: An AR-15 style rifle manufactured by Battle Rifle Co. displayed in a store in Webster, Texas. (AP file)
A ban on AR-15s won’t help stop crime, Bay State police chiefs say. (AP file photo)
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