Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Commonsense Measures Come Through Collaboration

In the wake of the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida the national debate about firearms is resuming, and it should. Violence in any form has no legitimate place in Massachusetts, or anywhere else, and that is why I’ve worked diligently, always in a bi-partisan manner, to strengthen our public safety laws, including those regulating firearms.

We should always be willing to engage one another and work to make sure that our laws are effective and keep the public safe. Such collaborative efforts have resulted in major advances in our state’s gun laws, while still respecting the second amendment:

• Following the October shootings in Las Vegas, I wrote and filed legislation to ban so-called bump stocks (of the type used in the attack) and trigger cranks. That bill, with bi-partisan support, led to legislation signed into law by Governor Baker.

• In 2014, I served as one of six members of the conference committee which ultimately produced “An Act Relative to the Reduction of Gun Violence.” Some components of this law include provisions to: give local police chiefs greater authority to petition the courts to deny applicants for shotgun and rifle permits; enhance school safety and suicide awareness programs; increase penalties for certain gun infractions; require the state’s Department of Criminal Justice Information Services to make a Web system to reform tracking the private sale of firearms; and strengthen background checks for gun sales.

Despite opposition by the National Rifle Association I supported this this bill, which also was backed by both Stop Handgun Violence, a non-profit organization committed to the prevention of gun violence, and the Gun Owners Action League.

• In the 2018 fiscal budget debate I successfully co-sponsored, with Senator Cynthia Creem, legislation requiring extensive data collection and analysis of lost and stolen guns, and firearm purchases through private and licensed sellers linked to crimes. The report, once released by the Executive Office of Public Safety, can give us valuable information about how to further address these issues.

Our nation would be far better off if Congress prioritized problem solving over inflexible partisanship, and meaningful results over rhetoric, and if organizations like the National Rifle Association would stop opposing commonsense measures.

Only through listening to, and working with, people, regardless of party affiliation or perspective, can we secure solutions to our most pressing problems. Being inclusive and collaborative works - our state has some of the strongest and most comprehensive firearms laws in the country. Now is the time for our federal government to apply our commonsense and collaborative approach to protecting people.