Better to Have a Right and Not Exercise it …
Over the past year as we struggled through the COVID crisis the citizens have learned a lot about what can happen under a state of emergency. People lost their jobs, lost their businesses, were isolated from friends and family, and more. Mental health issues were greatly exacerbated causing suicide rates to skyrocket. But one thing the average citizen of Massachusetts did not expect was the loss of their Second Amendment civil rights.
Gun Owners’ Action League (GOAL) was established in 1974 and since then has been trying to educate the public on the importance of protecting our precious rights. Quite a lot of this education was also trying to explain how the gun laws of the Commonwealth only function to persecute lawful people and do nothing to keep us safer. A great number of citizens and the media always shunned us as just “another gun nut group”.
Fast forward to 2020 and the people got a harsh lesson in – It is better to have a right and not exercise it, than to need it and realize it is gone. Countless thousands in Massachusetts suddenly wanted to exercise the right to keep and bear arms in 2020 only to find out that the 2A community had not been crying wolf all these years. What is often termed as a slippery slope was suddenly a steep cliff.
The Baker administration started off by directly, and specifically, attacking the 2A community by shutting down firearm retailers, ranges, and training. To add insult to injury, they intentionally prohibited firearm retailers from the business bailout programs.
Then there were the cities and towns that stopped processing firearm license applications all together. At first this once explainable as we all were trying to wade through how to live and work with COVID. First responders were taking extra precautions as they were on the front lines. We quickly learned that some municipalities were simply using COVID as an excuse to shut down the Second Amendment. Other cities and towns were trying their best to process licenses but were stymied by closed buildings or staff limitations.
Countless thousands in Massachusetts having watched parts of our country literally being destroyed felt the need to exercise a right they had not thought much about until then. What they quickly found out was that all of the things we had tried to warn them about were now suddenly real to them.
In the ensuing months, the GOAL staff was inundated with pleas for help. People who were never part of the 2A community abruptly realized that a right they never exercised may in fact be gone. Even retailers were getting potential customers coming in with no license only to be told they could not buy anything without one. These folks realized that all those news stories about how anyone could just walk off the street and buy a gun were tremendously false.
GOAL did our best to help those we could, and we still are. Mostly people who were not GOAL members and probably never thought much of us until they needed help. GOAL worked with the state and local entities to get them up and running. Those that refused to are now being subject to our federal court action. While we continue to lead the charge against these civil rights violation, we hope that the people desperately trying to join our community remember the harsh lesson they jus got. We also hope they will convince others of the very real threats.