Boston Public Hearing Notes 9/13/13
The day began with Committee Chair Naughton’s opening remarks, discussing the hearings and listening forums which have taken up most of the Summer, who he has spoken with and the plan going forward.
The take away quote from his opening remarks was; "This has been a tremendous experience, it strikes me that we can reach a common ground."
Senator Creem was amongst the first to provide testimony and she hit many of the usual points and asked for much of the same; “It's time for us to join forces with those that do not support gun legislation so that we can put an end to gun violence. We need to bring MA back to the lead, we need universal background checks for all sales including private sales, discretion for all licenses, prohibition of all assault weapons because we don't have that right now. “
(GOAL note, apparently Senator Creem hasn’t seen the real numbers showing the abysmal failure that has been the acts of 1998. We are all for ending gun violence, MA can start by keeping repeat offenders off the street, if we did this violent crime would drop dramatically)
Rep Linda Dean Campbell followed; “A firearm is by far the easiest way to take the life of another. We have a tremendous opportunity before us to introduce legislation which reduces violence.”
(GOAL note, yet another legislator who blames the tool not the act)
Mayor Setti Warren; “We need gun legislation that affects all of us not just one particular city. Gun violence has no borders, every day 33 Americans die due to gun violence... I am Proud to be a member of the MAIG”… he then went on to ask for the usual MAIG demands.
(GOAL note, yet another legislator twisting statistics to push an agenda, the 33 people mentioned would include 22 who committed suicide, the 11 remaining would include at least 2-3 justifiable homicides, i.e. a police shooting, or a lawful act of self defense.)
Sheriff Katoujian started out with a recital of MAIG stats about gun violence. “We must close the gun show loophole and require background checks on all firearm sales and I support the governors bill banning high capacity magazines as they are designed for the battlefield and have no place on the streets.” He followed with some previously unheard information about the infamous “crime gun”. “When the ATF traced 1k crime guns a few years ago in MA they found that over fifty percent of them came from other states. With that in mind I propose that we must work on a regional and national effort to pass legislation.”
(GOAL note, we’ve covered the “crime gun” bit before and how easy it is for a gun to be classified as such. Also, if 50% of the guns used in crimes are truly coming from other states how are we seeing ZERO arrests for trafficking and why are our legislators trying to restrict what MA residents can purchase? They can’t have it both ways.)
Mayor Menino followed. He started by discussing his involvement with the origins of the MAIG, then followed with more stats, one of which was a doozy; “over sixty five million people support background checks.” He then went into the usual gun violence murder stats and demands from the MAIG which we all know all to well. At the end of his testimony he received a standing ovation from his supporters who surrounded him in the lower seats of the Gardner Auditorium.
(GOAL note, we’ve discussed the MAIG many times, how they named the Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Adam Lanza, and the Colorado Theater shooter James Holmes all “victims of gun violence”. Not to mention the many criminals involved with the MAIG including child pornographers, extortionists and other criminals including the newest member of the bad boy club Bob “Filthy" Filner, Mayor of San Diego. We’ve also seen many mayor disassociate themselves from this group of late due to their dishonest policies and statements)
Governor Patrick followed with his testimony. “We share a commitment to making our community safer... safe communities create opportunity... government can't make us safe on its own but it must do all it can. We need to make the consequences of illegal gun ownership and illegal gun use more severe. My hope is that we will work together to support wide and tactical response. We must make Massachusetts compliant with the NICS check system. We need to increase punishment for second, third, and fourth offenses. We have to stop gun violence by passing one gun a month. This will solve many violence problems in communities while respecting the Second Amendment. He went on to discuss meeting Newtown parents, then in a rather disturbing moment he named children killed at Sandy Hood asking on their behalf for action.
(GOAL note, it was nice to hear Governor Patrick finally discussing punishing violent criminals, the fact that he’s discussing increasing penalties for the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th act is a bit troubling though, how about the 1st act?)
Rep Naughon followed with a question for Governor Patrick asking how do we fix the NICS system?
Governor Patrick answered that we do submit to NICS but we don't submit the mental health records to the FBI.
He went on to discuss the issues with the LTC/FID license delays; “There has been a delay with renewals this year because it is a renewal year based on the legislation of 1998, there are over 100k renewal to process this year. The system is old and had problems earlier this year with crashing.” He followed by stating that they are hiring more people and throwing more money at new computers/infrastructure to fix the delay issue.
District Attorney Daniel Connolly of Suffolk County followed; “Each year since I took office more people have been killed by firearms than any other weapon. We in Massachusetts have to redouble our own efforts to address gun violence.” He went on to discuss his bill which includes a two and a half year mandatory sentence to any gun owner who fails to report a lost or stolen firearm, his bill also includes mandatory insurance, micro stamping and more.
(GOAL note, yet another person asking for more law, while citing stats as to how our current “nations toughest” laws don’t work already. Astounding that someone can not only state this, but that people would think it a good idea.)
Finally after what seemed like hours of testimony from the control side, we had pro Second Amendment testimony. Representative George Peterson testified on behalf of MA gun owners; “We can all agree that we want to stop gun violence. In MA we have very strict regulation, adopted in 1998, since then gun violence in MA has more than doubled, so the strictest laws in the country have not reduced gun violence.” He followed by discussing his bill H.3264 which reforms the licensing process, sets up a criminal firearm trafficking division, “we need to keep criminals with guns locked up and not infringe upon our Second Amendment Rights.” He went on to correct the MAIG, discussing how “there is no such thing as an “illegal gun” especially in Massachusetts. A gun can't be illegal unless it’s a sawed off shotgun or has had the serial number removed. I hear this term of illegal firearms, but there are very few, there are however many people in MA with firearms illegally. We have laws which address all of the illegal acts right now, what we need is to prosecute them.” He then touched on MA’s licensing procedure,” I have firsthand knowledge of the issues with the licensing system, I have been a licensed gun owner for a lot of years without a problem, this May I submitted my application, my license expired on June 8th, October 8th is the end of my ninety day grace period and the start of the hunting season but I'm not going to be able to go because the state can't follow their own laws, and I have to pay the price. The state has plenty of revenue from the licensing to address this so shame on us.” He went on to discuss the NRA Eddy Eagle program, the NSSF new billboard program addressing straw purchasing and more. He concluded with a statement about the need to reform the current system.
Rep. Peterson was followed by a pair of Sandy Hook parents; “We are here to ask for stronger mental health laws and stronger gun laws in Massachusetts. As a parent I have an obligation to ensure that no other children are killed by gun violence.” He then went on to ask for the usual MAIG demands, and cited how MA statistics show the success of our laws. He went on to discuss his son Daniel and stated that he was there on his behalf.
Nicole hackles also a Newtown parent followed. She started by discussing her life post Sandy Hook, stating that “there is not getting over it.” She then discussed how she has committed here life to ensure that no other parent has to go through what she does and went on to discuss how the new bills will save lives without interfering with our rights, stating; “it’s just common sense to take steps necessary” and stating that they have no real effect on gun ownership. She went on to discuss saving just one more child and implored the legislators to take action.
(GOAL note, like everyone our hearts were broken last December, however, nothing that these parents are proposing will stop the next Adam Lanza.)
The hits kept coming; Representative David Linsky followed discussing his bill H.3253 which he called his “comprehensive gun bill”. He started by discussing the 25k people which have died from gun violence since Sandy Hook, breaking it down into percentages of cause and discussing how each type of gun violence requires a different solution. He then stated that his bill has twenty five different solutions, stating; “if each solution makes a small difference the total effect of the bill will be great. He went on to discuss more details about his bill, asking for the end of shall issue FID cards, how there is no definition of what a suitable person is, asking to incorporate a person’s age, health, firearms experience, mental health and more into what he thinks the definition should be. He went on to discuss his storage proposal and concluded by addressing his proposal for mandatory training.
(GOAL note, Rep. Linsky’s legislation is misguided at best. Bans don’t work it’s been proven time and again. The majority of his bill is nothing but legislative harassment aimed at making the ownership of firearms difficult to impossible.)
John Rosenthal of Stop Handgun Violence followed. He started by stating; “I am sad that this isn't happening in Washington and that our Congress doesn’t have the backbone to do this”. He then discussed his gun ownership, his billboard and that he is a firm believer in the Second Amendment. He went on to state the usual MAIG lies about no background checks and stated all of the usual MAIG talking points. He followed by asking for universal background checks, asking for one gun a month and touched on high capacity magazines stating how police officers have magazines that hold between 13 and 17 rounds and asking why we would want to let someone buy a magazine that holds more than that? He then went on to ask for further restrictions on modern sporting rifles “assault weapons’. He then asked why we don't hold manufacturers accountable for criminal acts.
(GOAL note, Mr. Rosenthal has a very poor understanding of what the intent of our Second Amendment is, we will leave it at that.)
GOAL Executive Director Jim Wallace
A panel comprised of GOAL Executive Director Jim Wallace, Attorney Ed George and NRA Representative John Hohenwater followed. Jim started off; “On no level have the laws of 1998 been a success. The laws are so convoluted that a former chief of police makes a good living selling a 300+ page book to law enforcement which explains them. With that in mind how can we expect citizens to understand them?” Jim went on to discuss GOAL’s Bill H.3264 and what it would do, he then took aim at new proposals aimed at straw purchasing, discussing the fact that there hasn't been a single prosecution in the commonwealth for the same. He went on to discuss the microbills which include a tax break on storage items like safes etc... Jim followed discussing many things, mandatory training, magazine limits, the AG list and the mess created there, he followed discussing the NICS check compliance, and how the governors bill was written poorly because of the way it defines who is or isn't mentally ill.
Attorney Ed George followed discussing problems with the statutes in relation to the issuance of LTC and FID cards, he discussed the amount of verbiage in the law and how hard the laws are to interpret, even for a trained lawyer. He then went on to discuss the suitability proposals in relation to FID cards, discussing how few firearms you can purchase with it, and how he sees is as more harassment of people who try to follow the law in order to discourage them from purchasing firearms. He also discussed how many MA laws contradict each other in regards to what you can and cannot legally own with an FID permit. He followed by discussing the Heller and McDonald decisions, reminding the committee to keep this in mind and how the Supreme Court of Illinois just stated that ownership of a handgun is a constitutional right. He went on to discuss his recent Supreme Court loss regarding a juvenile who was arrested with a firearm and how because of that the man cannot apply for a license now even though he’s had a spotless record since the mistake. He concluded asking the committee to be careful crafting legislation in regard to mental health legislation.
John Hohenwater of the NRA followed Atty. George; “MA is a keystone state, going back to the American Revolution, and because of that we have a great heritage regarding firearms, with that in mind if some of our founding fathers were here today I think they would be quite alarmed at what they are hearing. The proposal that you are reviewing, most of them won't do a thing to reduce violence, most of them have already been tried, none of this is groundbreaking.” He then discussed the “just save one life” mantra reminding the committee about a recent vote to raise the speed limit, how home owners wouldn't have swimming pools and many household cleaners. He went on to discuss how instead of passing arbitrary laws we should be looking at more intervention programs. As to the mental health issues he stated that we (the NRA and their members) are more than willing to work with you on real solution, that increasing criminal penalties and enforcing existing criminal law is going in the right direction.
Senator Chang Diaz followed with a question, “What is so troublesome about the idea of restrictions in regard to purchasing firearms and limiting the purchase of them, would it help us cut down on trafficking?”
Jim Wallace answered; “there is a 33 step process you have to go through to purchase a handgun, not to mention everything else we have to do to abide by the law, for the government to ask for one gun a month is a slap in the face.” He followed by stating; “gun owners have given up so much already only to see crime increase, also, there are already many laws in place addressing straw purchase and there is no record of prosecution, so passing another law doesn't make sense. Instead of stopping criminal’s access to guns we should be stopping criminal’s access to freedom. Our cities are under siege and most of it is because of the drug trade, our members would walk hand in hand with the citizens of the inner city to ensure these criminals causing problems are locked up.”
Senator Diaz, followed trying to make points about common sense legislation and trying to draw a comparison between legislators responsibilities and gun owners responsibilities.
Jim followed discussing how we have proposals in place addressing the crime and how one gun a month will not work, calling the new proposals “window dressing” and starting that it won't help the people in her district.
Like the previous 4 hearings we heard many people testifying from both sides of the issue, those that oppose our Second Amendment freedom continued to speak from the same talking points provided by the MAIG. GOAL members and those that support freedom provided great testimony using facts, statistics and logic to paint a picture of the many flaws in the current law, and the need to reform them.
Only time will tell what happens going forward. We have seen a majority of states across the nation pass laws which deregulate firearms ownership and support our RKBA. We can only hope that our legislature will take note of this. As always GOAL will be working with our legislators to represent the law abiding gun owners of Massachusetts and will inform our membership should the need to take action arise.
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