Massachusetts lawmakers agreed to terms on a gun bill Wednesday that would give law enforcement the power to petition courts to deny a citizen his/her right to purchase and posses long guns.
Many are calling this latest version of the bill a comprise, in that the House version, H.4285, initially sought to give police departments full ‘may-issue’ discretion over one’s right to obtain a rifle or shotgun (police departments now have that power with respect to handguns), while the Senate version, S.2284, removed that ‘may-issue’ provision altogether.
Under the new negotiated terms, a police department does not have discretionary power over one’s application for a Firearms Identification Card, what is needed to lawfully purchase or possess a long gun, but can file a petition in court that seeks to deny one’s FID card application or privileges.
Upon receiving the petition, the court must decide whether the information is “reliable, articulable, and credible” to suggests that the applicant or gun owner “could potentially create a risk to public safety.”
Additionally, the bill would require the state to join the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System and require schools to better address students suffering with mental health issues.
It’s believed that in it’s current state, the updated bill with clear both chambers.
“My sense is there should be enough votes to pass it in both houses,” Rep. George N. Peterson Jr. (R-Grafton), told The Boston Globe.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a D.C.-based gun-control organization, praised the Legislature for reaching an agreement.
“We are very pleased to see Massachusetts legislators moving aggressively to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals,” said Ladd Everitt, the group’s communication director, in an email to GunsAmerica. “It is long past time for the state to get a complete set of disqualifying records into the NICS database, and other provisions being considered are similar to the ‘Gun Violence Restraining Order’ policy we are advocating for in California and other states.”
“We salute Massachusetts for leading the way to reduce the carnage being caused by gun violence,” he continued. “Inaction is no longer acceptable; not for our communities, and not for our kids.”
Meanwhile, the Massachusetts State Firearms Association also known as Gun Owners Action League (GOAL), is backing the measure.
“We are supporting the improved bill,” said Jim Wallace, the group’s executive director, over the phone to GunsAmerica. “There are a lot of good things in it for us.”
To explicate, under the improved bill juniors can apply for their gun licenses ahead of time so they don’t miss out on hunting season, state laws restricting the types of firearms (handguns, AR-platforms) that juniors can train with would also be amended, and overall, the process for obtaining a FID card or carry permit would be streamlined.
More importantly, the bill makes significant changes to the ‘may-issue’ handgun licensing process. Under current law, the burden is on the applicant to prove why he/she needs a handgun or carry permit, which is required to possess a handgun. The bill would remove the burden from the applicant and place it on the department to establish, in writing, why the applicant is unsuitable to possess a handgun.
Additionally, those who are denied carry permits could appeal the written denial in court, something that is not currently allowed.
To critics who suggest that the bill might be too much of a compromise, Wallace said, “My job is to make life better for Massachusetts gun owners, and this bill will do that.”
The Legislature is expected to vote on the bill Thursday, the last day of the legislative session.
NRA Interview with Jim Wallace last week, before the Senate and the House came to terms: