Markey, House Pass Gun Bill
Legislation Makes Strides for Public Safety, Ensures Rights of Lawful Gun Owners
BOSTON – In the wake of school shootings and public outrage over gun violence, the call for a legislative response that would increase public safety grew louder. On Wednesday, State Representative Christopher M. Markey (D- Dartmouth) joined his colleagues in the House of Representatives in passing H4278, "An Act relative to the reduction of gun violence". The bill outlines increased penalties for the misuse of and illegal possession of firearms, and institutes safeguards for school safety.
When the first version of the bill (H4121) was released, it immediately raised red flags, according to Markey, who represents all of Dartmouth and portions of New Bedford. “I absolutely understand people’s desire to change the law to protect innocent people but, as it was previously written, that bill would have no measurable effect on public safety,” said Markey. He added that “on the contrary, it would only work in limiting the rights of law-abiding citizens. Something needed to be done, and this was the start of the conversation, but many of my colleagues and I have been working to find a better solution.”
Markey, who is House Vice Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, had concerns and conveyed them to the crafters of the final bill. “I think that legislators from all corners and all political parties were very helpful in coming to the ultimate version of the bill. Our concerns were addressed,” he added. Concerns Markey raised included the suitability and the discretion of the licensing authority and how the Massachusetts State Police can best be used with regard to gun violence. “Shifting the burden of suitability onto the licensing authority to prove an individual threat to public safety is a significant and positive change, as is having a specialized unit of the Massachusetts State Police focused entirely on guns used in crimes,” said Markey. “During my years as a prosecutor, I was always frustrated by the lack of sufficient data regarding stolen firearms, lost firearms, and firearms used in multiple crimes by multiple persons (ie, community guns). That specialized unit can now focus on compiling and utilizing that important data,” he added.
After the vote, Markey said he received calls and emails of thanks from both opponents and proponents of the original bill. “It’s gratifying to know that people, no matter what their position is, understand how carefully we deliberate these matters,” said Markey. “When it comes to individual rights and public safety, we have to be even more thorough. I believe that this bill is the culmination of those efforts. It strikes a balance of protecting Second Amendment rights while focusing appropriate resources toward illegal gun use, mental health issues and school safety.”
The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration.