Gun Owners’ Action League opposes H.2092 An Act relative to universal background checks for private gun sales filed by State Representative David Linsky (D) Natick. Please note, you can download this letter at the bottom of this page and mail it to your state representative and state senator. You can look up their address at the State House here.
March 30, 2019
RE: GOAL’s Opposition to Mandating “Private Transfers of Firearms be Conducted through a Licensed Retailer
As you may be aware there are legislative proposals to place further restrictions on licensed citizens wishing to conduct lawful transfers within the Commonwealth. GOAL is opposed to this measure.
Currently under Massachusetts law, Chapter 140 Section 128A, only a resident that has gone through a very extensive background check and licensing process may transfer guns in Massachusetts. A License to Carry (LTC) or a Firearms Identification Card (FID) can be revoked immediately if the holder commits a prohibiting act.
A properly licensed person within the Commonwealth is already limited to only four “private” gun transfers in a calendar year. Anything beyond that must be done through a licensed retailer.
If a resident has made it through the stringent licensing process in the Commonwealth there are very strict laws that in place that must be followed. The following is required in order for a “private” transfer to be legal under Section 128A:
- The department of criminal justice information services shall require each person selling or transferring a firearm, shotgun or rifle pursuant to this section to electronically provide, though the portal, such information as is determined to be necessary to verify the identification of the seller and purchaser and ensure that the sale or transfer complies with this section.
- Upon submission of the required information, the portal shall automatically review such information and display a message indicating whether the seller may proceed with the sale or transfer and shall provide any further instructions for the seller as determined to be necessary by the department of criminal justice information services.
- The department of criminal justice information services shall keep a record of any sale or transfer conducted pursuant to this section and shall provide the seller and purchaser with verification of such sale or transfer.
It is important to note that so-called private transfers cannot legally take place between persons living in different states. Under federal law 18 USC 921, 922 any person wishing to purchase/transfer a gun in another state must do so through a federally licensed retailer. If the item in question is a handgun, the handgun must be transferred from a licensed retailer in the state of purchase to a licensed retailer within the state of the purchaser. Only after the local retailer has met all the requirements of state and federal laws, including background checks, can the purchaser take possession of the handgun.
If a properly licensed Massachusetts resident wishes to obtain a rifle or shotgun from another state it must be done so through a licensed retailer. Such rifle or shotgun must comply with all Massachusetts law if the gun is to be brought back into the Commonwealth. After the paper work and background checks are completed, the purchaser may take possession of the gun. Once in possession, the Massachusetts resident has up to seven days to report the transfer to the state (Chapter 140, Section 128B).
Under Massachusetts law, a non-resident even one who possesses a non-resident LTC is prohibited from obtaining (purchase or transfer) any guns or ammunition within the Commonwealth (Chapter 140, Section 131E).
With an overly restrictive process already in place, what problem exists that this proposal is supposed to solve?
The only valid reason to even put forth such a proposal is if there are well documented cases of criminals obtaining guns through the existing legal process. To date, no such evidence has been made available.
As I stated in a previous letter, rather than the Commonwealth passing another useless law, we would respectfully suggest that we put our collective efforts to matters of truly great importance. The overwhelming drug (opioid) epidemic, violent crime, and meaningful suicide prevention. I would strongly suggest your support of the following two pieces of legislation. These bills would begin to address three areas that desperately need attention without further restricting good people.
H 3398 “An Act relative to illegal drug and firearm trafficking” – Rep. Joseph McKenna
H1740 “An Act relative to mental health needs and suicide prevention” – Rep. Lenny Mirra
Should you need any further information regarding any of these matters, please feel free to reach out to me.
James L. Wallace