End of Legislative Session Wrap Up
Governor’s Lawful Citizen’s Imprisonment Act Defeated
At midnight on Saturday, July 31, 2010 the Massachusetts Legislature ended formal sessions for the year. With a few legislative items in play until the very end, GOAL was in the State House until the last gavel was dropped at midnight.
One of the greatest challenges in the last days of the session was actually the casino bill. The fight over casinos by the major political leaders in the state became an all consuming subject. Towards the end, it was anyone’s guess what might become a bargaining chip for that bill. The Governor’s Lawful Citizens Imprisonment Act, H.4102, was certainly a bill that was in play. That is why it was so important for GOAL to be there until it was all over.
We are pleased to announce that due to the hard work of GOAL and our members, H.4102 never came out of the House Ways and Means Committee for a vote. The lawful gun owners of Massachusetts should be very proud of a job well done. When one considers that this bill was a top priority of the Governor our members should be celebrating a great victory in the defense of our civil rights.
In the final months and weeks of the session, the Governor used his access to the media and pressured legislators in an attempt to pass his bill. GOAL members and staff spent countless hours contacting legislators and the media outlets providing them with an abundance of materials proving that further “gun control” measures was plainly the wrong direction to take. In the end, our hard work paid off.
The crime bill, commonly referred to as the “CORI bill” was passed with the dangerousness language that we did not like. This was another bill that ended up being a bargaining chip in the casino battle. The greatest problem we had trying to fix the one section in the bill was that it was held in a conference committee until very late Friday evening. The result was that no one could tell us if the bad language was even in the bill until it was too late. The bill was moved through the process on a voice vote very late Friday night.
The final language in the section will allow the courts to move for a dangerousness hearing for the unlicensed possession of a handgun, large capacity weapon or machine gun. As this becomes law, we will have to watch very closely how it is being used. Unless the courts and district attorneys use it in the manner we have pushed for, they could end up back in court as they were in the Young case.
The other last minute bill that had connections to the casino battle was the Wind Siting Act. This bill was another top priority of the administration. GOAL has been opposed to this bill for some time because it attempts to rewrite environmental permitting laws for one politically favored industry. We are not opposed to renewable energy sources if the companies are following the same laws as others have to.
The Wind Bill literally came down to the wire as Rep. George Peterson and Rep. Denis Guyer worked the House floor to stop it from passing. In the last fifteen minutes of the session on Saturday night the bill did pass the House after a seldom used political maneuver by our opposition on the floor.
The good news for now is that it never made it over to the senate in time before they adjourned at midnight. This means that bill can still come up in the senate during informal session, but it will only take one legislator to stop it from being voted on. GOAL members, remember that is the same process that stopped our “Katrina” bill from becoming law two years ago. We will have to watch it closely to try and make sure it is held up until the end of the year.
Unfortunately, GOAL’s Civil Rights and Public Safety Act never came out of committee for consideration. When GOAL drafted this bill two years ago we knew very well that it would be an uphill battle. Doing away with the entrenched “gun control” laws in the Commonwealth represents a cultural change in the state and those types of changes don’t happen easily.
One thing that is very clear that our efforts on H.2259 are what led to the demise of the Governor’s bill. Our MassGunLawReform campaign was a massive educational and outreach process that has changed the discussion about guns. Legislators and even some media outlets that are not traditionally on our side have started to look towards reforms in the future.
In this effort, GOAL members can take great pride that we have led the nation in separating the issue into the two distinct topics; civil rights and public safety. This unique way of framing the argument has actually started catching national attention. While the bill didn’t pass this session, the campaign itself has been very successful in laying the ground work for the battles to come.
We all know that the enemies of freedom are not going to give up easily. One only has to look to Chicago to realize that. Even after a major victory in the United States Supreme Court the battle for freedom there continues to rage on. With the continued support of our members there is no doubt that we will persevere.
As a side note, I would like to take a moment to thank the members of GOAL for allowing me to represent them in this great battle for civil rights. It is an honor and a privilege to represent the interests of our members and I will continue to do my very best to make sure your voices are heard.
James Wallace, Executive Director Gun Owners' Action League
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