New Legislation at the State House
The 191st General Court of the Massachusetts legislature is in full swing. As always GOAL has been busy working with your legislators, filing bills intended to incrementally restore our Second Amendment rights in Massachusetts.
This season, GOAL is filing a number of bills, which would provide protections for licensed gun owners from poorly constructed laws and regulations. This includes H.2055, An Act relative to the lawful return of property filed by Representative Shawn Dooley. This legislation would ensure that a person who legally owns a gun (property) would be able to get that property back from any business, which may have stored it. Further, it also ensures that the gun owner is not charged for the return of their property should it have been taken from them without their express written permission. This legislation is currently in the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.
An Act Relative to Constitutional Rights is another important bill filed for this session by Representative David Robertson. This legislation (H.2122) creates a new section of law that provides a presumption that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual civil right. For many years the courts and law enforcement entities have been confused due to the state’s poorly written laws. With a clearly defined presumption of rights, lawful citizens will be saved unnecessary harassment. Likewise the courts and law enforcement will no longer waste time and resources on lawful citizens simply exercising their civil rights.
It also provides protections against other government entities in the state from passing laws and regulations restricting that right. This will avoid a potential patchwork of laws across the Commonwealth that causes confusion.
Representative Todd Smola has filed H.2130 An Act Relative to the Lawful Sale of Handguns. This is another important bill for a number of reasons. Currently in Massachusetts we have two separate schemes that control the manufacture and sale of handguns in Massachusetts.
The first is the Attorney General’s regulations 940 CMR 16.00 that were originally initiated by Scott Harshbarger, in an attempt to ban handguns without the consent of the legislature. The so-called authority to do so was predicated on the use of Chapter 93A “Consumer Protection Laws”. The Attorney General’s office could not find a single case of a consumer being harmed by a poorly manufactured handgun. Nonetheless the regulations were enacted.
The second scheme was passed into law with the 1998 Gun Control Act. The law is currently laid out in Section 123 of Chapter 140. This section provides testing and performance standards, how they were drafted no one seems to know. However, with these standards a manufacturer can submit their product for independent testing. Should the product meet the requirements they are then added to a roster of approved firearms.
The conflict now arises due to the fact that the Attorney General’s office does not formally recognize the official roster of approved firearms and warns licensed retailers of possible conflicts. Essentially what we have is a situation where two government entities from the same government are using different schemes to enforce their authority over lawful products.
This bill simply removes the Attorney General’s authority to regulate weapons and repeals the previous regulations.
For a full listing of GOAL legislation, and all firearms and hunting related legislation in general, please see our legislation chart here.
We will also need to stop legislation intending to further limit and regulate the actions of licensed gun owners.
We have seen more than a few of these bills before. We are also seeing some new ones that are basically designed to provide nice talking points for anti gun legislators like Representative Lori Ehrlich. She has filed H.2244, An Act requiring public pension fund divestment from ammunition and firearms. This legislation would ensure that the Commonwealth isn’t invested in any firearms manufacturing companies, include some of the largest employers in western Massachusetts. With that in mind, we have to ask if the Commonwealth would stop collecting all of the fees, taxes and revenue related to firearms? Would they also fully fund the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife? We’re guessing not.
Representative David Linsky is also at it again. He has filed a number of “talking point bills” intended to provide them the means to discuss how they are “doing something about gun violence”. Sadly, none of these bills provide any real solutions. They will provide more regulation and restrictions for people who follow the law though.
One of his newest bills is H.2092, An Act relative to universal background checks for private gun sales. This bill would force licensed gun owners to make all transfers at an FFL and to pay an associated fee of at least $25.00 per transfer. Once again, MA legislators are making life difficult for low-income families and people who don’t necessarily live near an FFL. We also have to ask, what problem is this bill trying to solve? It certainly won’t curb the criminal trade of firearms, many of which are included in illegal drug deals. This bill is currently in the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.
Representative Linsky has also filed a new bill titled, “An Act to close the large capacity magazine loophole”. This bill has been designated as H.2095. It would force gun owners to register lawfully owned magazines with the Commonwealth while providing exceptions to a protected class of citizens, (namely law enforcement). If passed into law, this legislation will provide a pathway towards confiscation by the stroke of a pen.
As always, we will monitor all relative legislation at the state house, and will update and/or alert our members should the time arise to provide testimony at the State House or take other legal actions. You can also track legislation here.