Dozens of gun control bills were the topic of a state legislative hearing in Springfield Friday. The proposals include limits on gun purchases, restrictions on high-powered rounds of ammunition and the reporting of mental health data to a national database.
An overflow crowd of more than 500 people came to listen to or give testimony to a committee of state lawmakers. Several busloads of employees from Springfield gun maker Smith and Wesson were in attendance. Worker Jim Richardson says he’s worried about the impact law changes might have on his job.
“I’m interested in whether or not the company’s going to maintain it’s position here in the community, but at the same time, I’m interested to see what the state has to offer about why they think my business is a threat to the community,” Richardson says.
Others came to support stricter firearms laws. Ann Krantz is mother of two, who grew up in Western Massachusetts and now lives in the eastern part of the state.
“After the Newtown massacre, I really fear fearful of sending them to first grade and I just felt it really was time for me to speak up. I could not sit by and do nothing anymore,” Krantz says.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno told the committee he wants tougher sentences for those caught with illegal guns and people convicted of repeat firearms offenses.
“We need incarceration, we need the sentences to stick, because it becomes very demoralizing when these individuals are let back out on the street, perpetrating these crimes,” Sarno says.
This hearing was one in a series being held statewide. The legislature is expected to take up gun control this fall.