New England Lawmakers Aim to Improve, Streamline State Gun Legislation

Lawmakers around New England are calling for gun-control law reform at both the regional and national levels. That’s because they say gun-laws are only as effective as the regulations in surrounding states.

Massachusetts’ gun laws are some of the toughest in the nation. Semi-automatic assault weapons have been illegal since 1998 and the state requires those purchasing guns to have a license or a permit. But Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, says people bypass these laws by hopping on the interstate.

“Guns have no borders, they keep on coming. And the fact is that a lot of folks go down to those southern states where there are lenient laws. And buy trunk-loads and bring them up to Massachusetts and sell them in neighborhoods.”

Menino says illegal weapons like these also come from Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. He says almost anyone can get their hands on them at gun shows in those states, at events where background checks aren’t required.

Vermont State Representative Mike Mrowicki is introducing legislation that would close that loophole and prohibit felons from carrying weapons in and through Vermont. The problem now is local police have to involve the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms or the ATF.

“What happens is if they encounter somebody who is in that category and they have a firearm, local police can’t do anything. They would have have to wait, call the ATF and if they have somebody that could help they have to wait for them to do it. In a dangerous situation that’s not the way you want to have to deal with a problem.”

According to the Boston Globe, 669 “crime guns” were traced to states outside of Massachusetts in 2011. Mrowicki says these measures could prevent some illegal firearms from making their way into Massachusetts.