GOAL Alert: MA Senate To Vote On ERPO – Please Urge Your State Senator Not To Support!
June 4, 2018
On Thursday, June 7, 2018 the Massachusetts State Senate is slated to bring H.4539, “An Act Relative to Firearms” to the senate floor during formal session, where they will debate, amend, and vote on the bill.
As we alerted our members last week, this bill is highly problematic if passed as approved by the MA House of Representatives.
Also, despite what many MA House members are telling their constituents, this bill completely circumvents due process. Please see an outline of the many problems this legislation presents for due process below.
Please call your MA State Senator immediately and urge him or her not to support this legislation. Usurping a fundamental right like due process, in the name of “taking action” should never be acceptable.
House Says No Room For Mental Health in ERPO, Will The Senate Make Room For Due Process?
On Wednesday, May 23, 2018 the Massachusetts House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a new “gun licensing bill”.
Note, to view the line numbers, please open the pdf version of the bill by clicking here.
Under the new House version of the gun bill, a judge may issue an emergency order without a hearing or notice to the accused. In lines 226 – 230: (GOAL Note: due process is not possible without the presumption of innocence, this action finds the respondent guilty before they even have a day in court.)
Section 131T. (a) Upon the filing of a petition pursuant to section 131R, the court may issue an emergency extreme risk protection order without notice to the respondent and prior to the hearing required pursuant to subsection (a) of section 131S if the court finds reasonable cause to conclude that the respondent poses a risk of causing bodily injury to self or others by being in possession of a license to carry firearms or a firearm identification card or having in his control, ownership or possession a firearm, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, weapon or ammunition.
There is also a provision for an order to become automatic simply because the accused could not make a hearing date. In lines 112 – 113:
If the respondent does not appear at the hearing pursuant to subsection (a) or subsection (b), the court shall grant the petition.
The term “ownership” is used quite extensively in the bill. In line 152, it would appear that an accused has to not only relinquish possession to file and appeal, but also relinquish “ownership”.
In lines 105 to 108 is created a special rule for those that use a firearm “for a living”, (presumably law enforcement). This provision mandates a hearing in 2 days instead of 10 days for everyone else.
In the long list of who can petition the court with an accusation, there is no condition of having “direct” knowledge of the mental health problems being a problem. This is incredibly problematic and sets the process up to be ripe for abuse.
These are only a few examples of the many problems found throughout the bill.