A listing of bad decisions and policy by Massachusetts officials.
Boston and Massachusetts Lose All Credibility on Gun Control
The Person Admittedly Responsible for Liquarry Jefferson’s Death Virtually Set Free
In the summer of 2007 we were struck by the tragic news that young Liquarry Jefferson was accidentally killed by an even younger relative. It appears from all recent reports that the young relative got a hold of a loaded handgun that was illegally obtained, illegally possessed and illegally stored by Liquarry’s older brother Jayquan McConnico. When the news of the tragedy broke, the mother misled police by telling them the boy was shot by someone from outside the home.
In the days and weeks to follow, Boston city officials including Mayor Menino couldn’t wait to get in front of a microphone and blame lawful gun owners for the death of this young man. The abhorrent misplaced allegation was said to be that this occurred because the NRA and other pro-civil rights groups were blocking “reasonable” laws that would stop such tragedies.
Such arguments have always been without merit and are in fact used to cover up a lack of social maturity and responsibility that exists in states like Massachusetts. This state spends quite a lot of political capital putting on a good face regarding stopping criminal activity, but it has proven time and again that it lacks the courage to back up that cheap talk. These deficits in maturity and responsibility could not have been more exemplified as they were on the day when the criminal most responsible for Liquarry’s death was virtually let free.
In early October of 2008, the criminal responsible for providing the illegally obtained, illegally possessed and illegally stored loaded handgun was brought before the Boston Juvenile Court. Reports state that the young man faced thirty years in prison for his actions. We know that the violation of Massachusetts storage laws alone (Chapter 140; Section 131L) could have brought him over ten years in prison. This latest action was also complicated by his recorded criminal past. However, the results were that the court remanded him to Department of Youth Services custody, a nine year concurrent probation and a two year suspended sentence for misleading police. The court also ordered that the defendant get a high school diploma and a job. This is the results of a city and state that continually pushes for tougher and tougher laws and berates the rest of the nation for not following their lead on tough gun laws?
In an even further example of lack of social maturity and responsibility the judge and the prosecutor were reported to have said “…if McConnico reoffends, he could be sent packing to MCI-Cedar Junction for up to six years - a safety net for the public Limon and assistant Suffolk District Attorney David Deakin insisted upon…” Reoffend? So if this young criminal is responsible for another death the court will really get tough and actually put him in jail!
For over a decade, the lawful gun owners of Massachusetts have faced crushing persecutory laws that have stripped tens of thousands of their civil rights. Our civil rights as lawful citizen gun owners have been eviscerated in the name of “reasonable” laws to provide public safety.
Because we continue to fight for what little remnants of the Constitution that remain here, we are continually blamed for blocking “common sense” laws that will protect Massachusetts citizens form gun crime.
If nothing else of a positive nature comes from this tragedy, it will be that the rest of the nations will know not to follow the “lead” of Massachusetts when it comes to criminal enforcement, crime prevention, gun laws or integrity. If the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts allows the person most responsible for young Liquarry’s death to virtually go free, no official in either government entity will ever again have any credibility in the eyes of its citizens in regard to public safety and the dismantling of the Second Amendment they are so proud of.
We cannot be sure where our so called political leaders are taking us as a society, but one thing is clear, they lack the social maturity and responsibility to do what it takes to keep us safe from known criminals. It would seem that the only so called courage they are capable of displaying are when they attack the ideals of innocent lawful citizens. Never so much have the lessons in George Orwell’s 1945 book “Animal Farm” been so important.
Links to Boston Herald Articles:
Worcester Chief Threatens Future of Firearms Training
A recent series of articles about the legal troubles of a shooting range in Worcester has raised questions for gun clubs. In newspaper articles (links to the articles are below), the Worcester Chief of Police was quoted as stating that it was illegal for the range to allow people to shoot that did not have either a License to Carry or Firearms Identification Card.
Some clubs have called us, worried that the junior training programs or basic firearms safety courses are operating outside the law. GOAL wants to reassure our affiliated organizations that there are at least four places in the law that reference individuals without Licenses or Cards lawfully participating in the shooting sports.
First, there are important exemptions for training. Chapter 140, section 129C first states that a License or Card is required for gun possession in Massachusetts, but goes on to create a list of 20 exemptions. Paragraph (k) exempts the training of youth for hunting or target shooting and paragraph (m) is the exemption that allows instructors to run BFS courses, clubs to run Women on Target events, and friends to show friends the fun of the shooting sports. Remember that in this chapter, the word “firearm” means handgun. This exemption is clear:
The provisions of this section shall not apply to the following exempted persons and uses:…
(k) Any person under the age of fifteen with respect to the use of a rifle or shotgun by such person in hunting or target shooting, provided that such use is otherwise permitted by law and is under the immediate supervision of a person holding a firearm identification card or a license to carry firearms, or a duly commissioned officer, noncommissioned officer or enlisted member of the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force or Coast Guard, or the National Guard or military service of the commonwealth or reserve components thereof, while in the performance of his duty;
(m) The temporary holding, handling or firing of a firearm for examination, trial or instruction in the presence of a holder of a license to carry firearms, or the temporary holding, handling or firing of a rifle or shotgun for examination, trial or instruction in the presence of a holder of a firearm identification card, or where such holding, handling or firing is for a lawful purpose;
Another reference to training is contained in section 130 of chapter 140. This section was designed to prevent illegal rifle and shotgun sales to minors, but its language also clarifies the lawful practice of training. There is a clear exemption here for “pupils” of all ages in the last sentence, with special provisions for a minor being trained:
Nothing in this section or section one hundred and thirty-one E shall be construed to prohibit a parent or guardian from allowing his child or ward, who has not attained age fifteen, the supervised use of a rifle or shotgun or ammunition therefor, according to the provisions of section one hundred and twenty-nine C, nor from furnishing such child or ward, who has attained age fifteen, with a rifle or shotgun that is not a large capacity weapon or ammunition; provided, however, that said child or ward, being fifteen years of age or older, has been issued a valid firearm identification card or alien permit to possess a rifle or shotgun which is in his possession. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit an instructor from furnishing rifles or shotguns or ammunition therefor to pupils; provided, however, that said instructor has the consent of a parent or guardian of a pupil under the age of eighteen years.
A fourth reference to unlicensed minors participating in target shooting is contained in the Inland Fish and Game Chapter, Chapter 131 of the Mass General Laws. Section 14 details how a minor over the age of fifteen must obtain their own hunting or sporting license and clarifies at what age a minor may begin hunting. Note that the age of the minor is not restricted with regard to target practice, although the age of the minor affects how the hunt is conducted.
Nothing in this section or any other provision of law shall prohibit any minor from participating in target practice on any skeet trap or target range; nor prohibit a minor twelve to fourteen years of age, inclusive, from participating in the hunting of birds and mammals when accompanied by a duly licensed adult; provided, however, that the bag limit established by law or regulation for one person shall not be exceeded; and, provided further, that only one firearm shall be used. Not more than one such minor shall at any time accompany one adult, and such minors shall not be required to be licensed.
GOAL wanted all Massachusetts clubs to be comfortable with continuing their training programs for unlicensed persons. Any club with a junior program, 4-H program, or Basic Firearms Safety course curriculum or other such activity can rest assured that under the circumstances of training, a License to Carry or FID Card is not required.
Will Massachusetts Gun Owners be Tracked Like Sex Offenders?
By Milton J. Valencia TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
WORCESTER— The latest strategy in the national war against illegal guns includes a “track and map” system to trace gun ownership, and the movement includes a local campaign in Worcester with a community group’s own tracing proposals.
Worcester is still reeling from the disappearance nearly a decade ago of some 50 guns from the Kahr Arms gun manufacturing company on Goddard Memorial Drive. One gun stolen from there was later discovered by a 4-year-old near his backyard, after it had already been used in a nightclub shooting that left one man dead. The locations of other guns remain unknown.
Nationally, concerns have been growing over trafficking of illegal guns stolen from homes or dealerships. In Philadelphia, a police department is under scrutiny for selling confiscated weapons to a shady gun dealer who later sold the guns to convicted felons, putting the weapons back into street violence circulation, according to a newspaper report.
Yet the gun tracking system, which as proposed would be similar to
the tracking of convicted sex offenders, still faces hurdles before
information on specific firearms can be found on public databases. Gun
rights groups have raised constitutional concerns, and at least one
federal law passed each year since 2003 limits the tracking of weapons
to law enforcement agencies.
Opposition to the tracking system has only fueled its proponents, who argue that the limits on tracing guns have facilitated gun trafficking. Law enforcement officers will openly say that the limitations of gun laws, specifically differences in gun laws from state to state, have made it harder to track the history of a gun than that of a motor vehicle.
A national effort called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, led by Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, aims to better track guns between states. At the local level, community groups who have called for strong community policing measures say it can only be accomplished with tracking systems that will let them know who in their communities have guns, have lost guns, and have used them.
In Worcester, it’s called “Where Did the Gun Come From?” and it’s part of a grass-roots campaign that encourages the public, media outlets and police to question the origin of a gun used in a crime rather than focus solely on the crime. Too many times, organizers say, crimes such as armed robberies are handled without a deeper look at the origin of the gun used.
“You don’t stop with the violent act, but dig deeper to find out where did the gun come from,” said District 4 City Councilor Barbara G. Haller, who has played a key role in anti-violence efforts in the Main South neighborhood.
“In almost all cases, the weapon that was used was used illegally,” she said.
Perpetrators face charges of having a gun without any permit, but still there are few investigations into the origin of the gun, she said.
An estimated 250,000 guns, from handguns to automatic weapons, that were found or confiscated in crimes now sit in vaults in police departments across the state, their identities unknown and the information exempt from databases, according to a group that has proposed a new gun-tracking data.
The Main South Alliance for Public Safety, a group composed of Ms. Haller and other community leaders, is working with a Seekonk-based computer software maker that has built what it calls futuristic technology to better track weapons. The software is meant for police departments to share information, but community groups say it could also give them a perspective into crime in their neighborhoods.
“It gives them a tool that’s not otherwise available now,” said James LaMonte, lead design engineer for Coloseum Software Corp., which developed the Advanced Inventory Management Intelligence program to track weapons.
The program goes beyond the federal government’s eTrace program, he said, calling it a comparison between a Ford Pinto and a Lamborghini. The software can help track a weapon based on its parts, its make, model, caliber and color. Users of the software can even search for information based on a bullet’s ballistic testing.
It won’t take the detective work out of a crime, he said. Police must still analyze data. But, he stressed, it’s a real-time program that keeps working, helping to track information on a gun beyond programs that are used now.
The software has the support of community groups including the Main South Alliance for Public Safety, which sees it as a community policing tool that will help residents interact and share information with police.
“We want to connect the dots with this type of technology,” said William T. Breault, chairman of the Main South Alliance for Public Safety. Last week, the group sent letters to police chiefs across the state urging them to participate in a Massachusetts-based pilot program to test the new software, with hopes of nationalizing it.
The letter calls community policing “a true partnership between police and the public they serve — as the most effective tool to control crime and the perceptions of danger.”
But public access to investigative material has its opponents, too, and that has been the basis of federal legislation restricting gun tracking information to law enforcement officials. The so-called Tiahrt amendment prohibits the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which maintains the eTrace database, from releasing the information outside of law enforcement. The legislation, an attachment each year to the Department of Justice spending bill, is seen as a way to reduce lawsuits filed against gun manufacturers and dealers and has the support of the National Rifle Association.
James Wallace of the Northboro-based Gun Owners’ Action League supports the legislation and said the gun tracking movement is misdirected, doing little to curb illegal gun use and street violence.
“It’s going to pit lawful people against lawful people,” he said. “If they really want to solve the issue, it’s to attack crime and the criminals.”
He uses the same statistics community groups do in pointing out the increase in gun violence to argue that laws restricting gun rights have done little to reduce gun crimes. Indeed, he said, licensed gun ownership has dropped 85 percent since 1998, when new gun laws were passed in Massachusetts, but gun homicides have still increased 64 percent, and gun-related assaults have increased 500 percent.
“It’s pretty darn clear that the powers that be are headed in the wrong direction,” he said. “The bottom line is crooks don’t care. They’re going to get it illegally.”
He proposes tougher penalties for illegal gun use and possession, and said his group even supports proposals to create a separate gun court, so that gun charges aren’t forgotten or reduced in plea bargains.
Worcester Police Detective Lt. Robert Rich also argued that gun tracking data should be restricted to law enforcement, saying the release of such information could alert the subject of a trafficking investigation.
He acknowledged that gun tracking is as lax as the faulty record-keeping that occurs, and that a car is easier to track than a gun. But he did stress that the eTrace system allows local police to work with federal agents to identify patterns that could lead to trafficking investigations. He said eTrace allows authorities to share sensitive investigative documents.
He said eTrace, though it doesn’t share information with the public, does serve a law enforcement role. The state Executive Office of Public Safety also said last week that it supports the existing government-used gun tracking programs.
Community groups said they intend no interference with the Second Amendment — Mr. Breault has his own firearm identification card — but stress that the information in a public tracking system would serve community purposes.
Mr. Breault envisions a Web site with a crime blog where residents can share information about neighborhood crime, and particularly gun use. He called that a true form of community policing. Such a program exists in Chicago, he said.
In Baltimore, public officials have unveiled a plan to track gun arrests and court cases and to create a gun offender registry on the Internet. The program would help track gun use, dealership and ownership across Maryland, the officials said.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns, with more than 180 mayors representing 50 million Americans, proposes a nationwide database run by police departments that will trace guns from California to Boston.
“These are mayors who represent big cities where, unfortunately, there’s a lot of gun-related crime and they’re trying to get a hold of it,” said U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester. “One of the ways to do it is to track the source of where these weapons are coming from.
“I don’t understand quite why that’s so important to the National Rifle Association.”
He stressed, too, that the national movement is stemming from neighborhood groups such as the Main South Alliance for Public Safety that see gun violence up close.
Contact Milton J. Valencia by e-mail at email@example.com.
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