Mass. Senate To Debate Gun Bill

The Massachusetts Senate is scheduled Thursday to debate its version of changes to the state’s gun control laws. This proposal is similar to one passed by the House last week.

The Senate bill includes expanded background checks, and the use of a federal data base to share information about drug abuse and mental health commitments when someone applies for a gun permit. State Senator Stephen Brewer says the bill also focuses on school safety.

“Not turning schools into the Alamo,” Brewer says. “I wouldn’t subscribe to that. That would be impossible. But to make sure we have better detection for those kids that might have propensity for violence.”

Advocates for gun owners, like Jim Wallace, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Gun Owners Action League, are generally supportive of the proposal–except for one area. The bill would give police chiefs more discretion in denying applications for firearms identification cards.

“If we fix one thing, one paragraph in the bill that’s over 100 sections long, we have the opportunity to craft a bill that deals with school safety, mental health cracking down on criminals and respecting the 2nd Amendment rights of lawful citizens,” Wallace says.

Paul Darling, a gun owner from Westfield, says he too is concerned about police chiefs possibly giving applicants for FID cards more scrutiny.

“If somebody has never committed a crime and they’ve never had any restraining orders against them, if they’ve never been committed to a mental institution, if they’ve never done anything wrong, then no, their rights should not be infringed”, Darling says.

If this bill passes, the House and Senate would have until the end of the month to settle any differences between the two versions.