Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Democrats have controlled both houses of the Massachusetts state legislature in recent years. Well, actually, since 1959, during the Eisenhower administration (Which was a very, very long time ago – Joe Biden was still in high school for Pete’s sake.). Right now, the Democrat-Republican split in the state senate is 37-3, and in the state house of representatives, it is 132-25. All this has led Massachusetts to turn into, well, Massachusetts. Republicans have struggled to control state policies with so little representation at the state level.
For example, this summer Massachusetts state Democrats proposed bill HD 4420, which its supporters call “An Act Modernizing Firearms Laws” and its detractors call “The Lawful Citizen Imprisonment Act”. The first sentence of the bill reads, “SECTION 1. Section 7 of chapter 4 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2022 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out subclause (j) of the twenty-sixth clause and inserting in place thereof the following subclause: – “ and I gave up there. So I haven’t read the bill myself, but an NRA summary can be found here. Here are a few additions to gun control laws mandated by this new legislation:
- Institutes a new, broad “Assault Weapons Ban,” including firearms already owned by law-abiding citizens.
- Bans all federally legally tax-stamped automatic firearms.
- Gun bans on possessing any gun, loaded, or unloaded at:
- All state, county, and municipal buildings.
- All polling places.
- Any private property unless the owner has provided express consent or has posted signage allowing firearms on their property.
- Mandates Safe Storage laws.
- Mandates new training requirements including costly written exams and live fire training.
- Mandates registration of all guns and feeding devices.
- Mandates reporting of any modifications or new parts to a gun.
- Mandates serializing all firearm parts.
- Bans anyone under 21 from acquiring or carrying any semi-automatic rifle or shotgun.
- Bans anyone under 15 taking part in shooting sports and training.
- Places new mandates, protocols, and training requirements on retailers.
This bill is to be debated and voted on this year in the Massachusetts state legislature. The association, which represents Chiefs of Police in Massachusetts, has released a letter arguing against this legislation. The letter (written by Police Chief Vincent C. Alfano (Ret.) and Police Glidden) is 17 pages long, and makes several points, some of which are:
- This law would mean that if an off-duty police officer with a concealed carry permit walked into a business with no sign regarding concealed carry, he or she could be arrested and prosecuted.
- Serializing all gun parts would include gun magazines, etc. – these do not currently have serial numbers – attempting to comply with this would be extremely costly and complex for gun owners and gun stores.
- Enforcement of this law would require enormous increases in staffing of regulatory agencies and state police. The funding for all this is not addressed in the bill.
- The definition of “assault weapon” would include the vast majority of rifles sold statewide.
- The licensing requirements are overly complex, confusing, and impractical.
- New rules regarding transport and storage of firearms are overly complex, confusing, and impractical.
- Mandating ‘live fire training’ for licenses in Massachusetts is impossible since there are so few gun ranges in that densely populated state.
The letter makes many more points, of course, but primarily points out that improving gun safety in a state that has an average of two accidental gun deaths per year (zero in 2021) will be difficult. I would argue that if their goal was to improve gun safety, they would not outlaw gun safety training to anyone under 15 years old (or anyone else, for that matter).
I’ll quote a couple of paragraphs from the conclusion of the letter:
Massachusetts currently has some of the strongest Firearms Laws in the country. We are often considered a “model” State nationally for many of our Laws. We also have some Firearms Laws that need work. Particularly in the areas of clarification, modernization, and simplification. Rather than disassemble the entire system, as this Bill attempts to do, it is more prudent to keep the good Laws we have and review, fix those parts that need it, and add meaningful, practical new sections when needed.
Any new firearms legislation must be fair, practical, constitutional, and enforceable. This Bill is problematic in those categories.
I find that very difficult to argue with.
On the other hand, I find his concluding paragraph very easy to argue with (emphasis mine):
We applaud the crafters of this Bill for their zeal in attempting to do something about the trend of violence we are seeing by persons illegally using firearms. We know their intentions are good. Their goals noble. However, the scope of HD 4420 is so widespread and far reaching that many of the proposed sections simply cannot be accomplished, or in many cases, enforced. We need to focus on legislation, cooperatively developed by the noted key players, that will truly have a real-world impact on those who use firearms to commit crimes and acts of violence. After considerable review, we find that HD 4420 is too problematic as written to realistically accomplish this goal at this time.
The author may be attempting to find common ground with his opposition by granting them the presumption of good intentions. But I find it difficult to suspend my disbelief that far. No one who was interested in improving gun safety would propose anything like this bill. It just makes no sense.
Democrats want abortions to be legal, because they don’t want to encourage a black market of off-the-books ‘back-street’ abortions. But when they make guns illegal, they don’t expect that they will be encouraging a black market of off-the-books firearms? Who on earth could believe both of those things at the same time?
Plus, no gun safety law would restrict gun safety training for anyone.
So much of the bill would make gun laws so complex and expensive that it would be nearly impossible for anyone to comply with them, even if they wanted to. Even the Police Chiefs who reviewed this bill don’t understand it.
Which I think is the whole point.
Nearly every gun in the state would become illegal overnight, and the Democrats weren’t even forced to actually ‘ban guns.’ Even if you wanted to make your guns legal, you wouldn’t understand the laws, and neither would the police, and you wouldn’t be able to afford it anyway.
Which I think is the whole point.
The letter from the Police Chiefs notes that the bill makes little effort to deal with the actual causes of gun violence – criminals. In fact, if police attempt to enforce the new regulations in this bill, they will be forced to shift their limited resources away from criminals. Criminals do not follow gun laws, thus any enforcement of gun laws by definition will be against law-abiding citizens. Citizens who are exceedingly unlikely to ever commit a violent crime.
Police will then have less and less time to pursue actual criminals, as they explain in the letter:
An everyday common term used in the media and by both Government and Civilian officials is “GUN VIOLENCE.” The “gun” is always blamed in any horrific act. We lose sight of the fact the “gun” is the tool of the person who committed the violent crime. This Bill does little to address THAT PERSON, and focuses on the “gun,” and in many cases the legally licensed citizens that own, possess, sell, manufacture, and carry firearms. The overwhelming number of these persons and entities have never, and will never, commit a crime. This Bill focuses on the above group. This focus will be the duty of Law Enforcement to direct attention to, and divert time, resources, funding, staff, and support agencies away from combatting true crime and criminals because THEY are the ones responsible for the violent trend.
We know through statistics that most violent crime is committed by a 10% segment of individuals. Of this segment, the majority are repeat offenders. This group is marginally mentioned in this Bill. Most do not have legally licensed firearms, or Firearms permits. We also know that many individuals, including mass shooters, who use a firearm in the commission of a crime suffer from mental health issues. We already have a start with addressing this issue with our current Red Flag Law, and this Bill does in fact touch upon that. Any new legislation should focus on career criminals and violent repeat offenders, with solid, enforced penalties and funding sources for Law Enforcement and the Criminal Justice / Corrections System. Additional focus should be directed towards persons with mental health issues who are at risk to commit a violent crime. Partnerships with the healthcare and Human Services Fields are critical.
All this is why Police Chiefs Alfano and Glidden conclude the 17-page letter with:
It is strongly recommended that the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association NOT Support HD 4420 as written.
The Police Chiefs make some very good points in their response, obviously. But since the Democrats have enormous majorities in both state houses, there is nothing to stop them from passing this. Nothing except the US Constitution, of course (as a friend of mine pointed out). But this is Massachusetts we’re talking about here, obviously.
And honestly, it’s been so long since Americans have considered the Constitution that I just can’t imagine us starting now. How much federal spending is clearly unconstitutional? At least half. Probably two-thirds. Maybe close to three-quarters? Hard to say. But whatever. As long as they’re spending the money in ways we like, who cares if it’s Constitutional?
So there may be some way to stop this bill, but the Constitution isn’t it.
I’m trying to imagine Massachusetts trying to enforce this law. Which leads me to wonder what the actual goals of the Democrats really are, here.
I find it difficult to believe that they really think that their gun laws are insufficiently draconian. They’re going to completely rewrite their gun safety laws because of a gun safety crisis of two deaths a year in a state of seven million people? I just can’t believe that.
This bill, to me, reads like it has one obvious purpose: To incite a violent response from Republicans. The events of January 6 were so advantageous to Democrats that they want more of the same.
Try to get State Police going door to door, confiscating newly illegal weapons. Maybe a CNN news crew could tag along, to record video and make people jumpier than usual. Hope some overweight white guy in a trailer somewhere has had a few too many that day, and hope that he lashes out somehow. Hope that he has an American flag in his yard – maybe even a pickup truck. Hope that others rush to his defense.
Just one incident similar to that could win elections for Democrats for years to come, all over the country.
This law might just accomplish that.
If you can think of another possible reason for this, I’m all ears. But I don’t think Democrats want gun safety here. I think they want violence. Because it suits their needs.
Which I think is the whole point.Published in