Governor Patrick has No Information to Back Legislation
On April 30, 2007 Gun Owners’ Action League (GOAL) sent a Freedom of Information Act request to Governor Patrick concerning his new one gun a month proposal. Since the entire premise of such a bill is to place the blame for illegal gun trafficking on lawfully licensed citizens, GOAL requested the following, “…any and all documents, memos, briefings, case files, prosecution documents, police reports, etc. specifically proving that the lawful gun owners of the Commonwealth are responsible for the illegal gun trade in Massachusetts.”
In a May 8, 2007 letter, Governor Patrick’s Deputy Chief Legal Counsel claims that the “…the Office of the Governor is not one of the instrumentalities enumerated…” in the public record law G.L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth and was therefore not obligated to disclose anything. The letter goes on to state however that the Governor’s office may respond, “…to public records requests on a case-by-case basis.”
The Deputy Chief Legal Counsel then states that our request has been reviewed and it was determined that, “…it fails to provide a reasonable description of the requested documents…” However, the Counsel then goes on to state, “…your letter seeks materials that are exempt from production under, inter alia, exemptions (d), (f), and (j) of the public records law…” These two statements together are not collectively logical. If our request was not clear, than how can the documents requested be determined to be exempt?
After reading the Governor’s response, GOAL then looked to the exemptions claimed under (d), (f), and (j) of the public records law. Upon reading these clauses, it was clear the Governor was telling us he had no evidence to back up the premise of his bill!
By claiming G.L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth (d), he has told us that he is not in possession of any, "... reasonably completed factual studies or reports on which the development of such policy positions has been or may be based."
By claiming G.L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth (f), he has told us that there might be law enforcement work being conducted that could be compromised if information was released to the public. While GOAL doesn’t condone a bill being filed before all the facts are in, we are pleased that the Governor supports the concept behind the Tiarht amendment that blocks anti-civil rights groups from obtaining current investigatory files from the BATFE.
By claiming G.L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth (j), since clause (j) protects the identity of lawful gun owners, but police reports are public record (as they appear in newspapers everyday) the Governor is clearly stating that, although he has no evidence to support his claims, he will persist in accusing lawful gun owners of being at fault for illegal gun trafficking.
GOAL can only conclude from the Governor's response that he has no evidence to support the filing his legislation limiting lawful gun owners to purchasing no more than one gun in a thirty day period. GOAL encourages our members to share this information with their local legislators and urge them not support the Governor's bill to restrict lawful citizens.
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