July 9th, 2014, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a new gun control law under the form of House Bill 4278. The new legislation was especially supported and promoted by Robert A. DeLeo. DeLeo is a Massachusetts House Speaker who is known within the debate as an ardent promoter of gun control. He was the one who proposed a revision of the old Massachusetts gun legislation, which had been more or less unchanged for the past 16 years. In the wake of the recent shootings which took place in the state, DeLeo argued adamantly for a new law to increase the police control over gun ownership. What’s refreshing about this new bill is that apparently this new Massachusetts gun control legislation appeases advocates and critics.
The new state bill dictates several things. While gun ownership will remain a basic citizen right of any Massachusetts inhabitant, access to guns now require the applicants to pass a background check performed by the local police. This check is intended to be more thorough than the past state mandated background checks. The criteria for suitability (to bear fire arms) will be standardized across the state. This standardization of the criteria is also one of the main purposes of the new gun control law. For Massachusetts citizens who plan to purchase a gun, the new legislation means that they will be required to prove that they have no history of violence or mental health issues. Also, all private gun transactions must take place in the presence of an authorized gun dealer to minimize the chances for fraud.
The new bill was partially based on a study made by a gun violence task force led by Jack McDevitt, the associate dean of research at the College of Social Sciences and Humanities Northeastern University. This independent study resulted in many recommendations for law makers. Many of the findings were included in the final bill. The study was designed with the intent of finding ways to minimize gun deaths in Massachusetts while also respecting people’s right to own a gun. The bill’s proposal included numerous meetings between various lobby groups involved in the matter to rationally discuss the issue.
The NRA (National Rifle Association) serves as the main lobby group that aims to protect citizens’ rights to bear and keep fire arms. The members and supporters of this group, while not exactly happy with the new Massachusetts gun legislation, admitted that negotiations allowed some concessions for them while the bill was being written. At first, the local organization for gun ownership, GOAL (Gun Owners Action League), was not exactly content with the initial draft of the bill. However, they admitted some concessions were made towards the end.
The NRA and the GOAL defined their struggle as a fight to protect the Constitution of the United States. Namely, they fight to protect a citizen’s right to own and bear a gun without external interference. The two organizations remain somewhat critical of the new Massachusetts gun legislation. Even while expressing criticism, they still admitted that the negotiations successfully scaled back some of the initial draft’s anti-gun aspects. GOAL is probably more entitled to sketch recommendations on the subject. The NRA is more removed from the local scene since it is a bigger organization working at a national scale.
The same thing can be said about the opposing side of the debate. An NGO called Stop Gun Violence advocates for the prevention of gun violence through education, awareness, effective law enforcement, and better laws. They too felt satisfied with how things turned out, probably more so than the gun ownership supporters. While not directly advocating against the fundamental right to own a gun, this sort of voice pushes for stricter gun control. For the time being, gun control and gun owner advocates appear to be getting a fair representation in Massachusetts law. Luckily, the practice of gunsmithing has been untouched by these new laws. If you live in Massachusetts and you’re interested in becoming a gun smith (or just finding out about what gun smiths do), check out these schools that offer courses/degrees in gunsmithing near you: Boston, Worcester, Lawrence, Springfield, and Pittsfield.