Good Guys Made Bad by Their Own Government

Good Guys Made Bad by Their Own Government

In 1974 the Massachusetts government implemented a new gun law known as the Bartley-Fox Act. This new law was supposed to be the answer to rising gun crime in the Commonwealth. The emphasis of the law was that anyone in possession of a gun without a license would be put in jail for one year. No excuses, no mercy, everyone who does not have a license goes to jail. This was government’s answer to crime?

Since the law was put in place over three decades ago, very few criminals have ever been sentenced under the law. While that itself is a failure of the system, I believe that Bartley-Fox is actually where things really started to go wrong in Massachusetts.
The passage of this law actually represents a surrender of sorts by our own state government. If one really thinks about the premise of that law, what it is really saying is: “We [the government] give up. We have no answers for rising crime. We don’t have the ability to tell the difference between a lawful citizen and a hardcore criminal. So anyone who doesn’t have the right piece of paper from us is going to jail regardless if they had criminal intent or not.” This was quite a startling new position taken by the Commonwealth where freedom was born.

Unfortunately for the citizens, this was only the beginning of a new culture of government that decided it was their job to grant us rights. Furthermore, they felt it was their job to monitor and control anyone who wished to exercise their rights, especially the right to keep and bear arms.

This new culture is what led to the Gun Control Act of 1998, commonly known as “Chapter 180”. This bill contained seventy-nine sections of new law written by people who hated guns and despised gun owners. A whole new set of laws built on the premise of the Bartley-Fox Act that blurred the lines between lawful citizens and criminals. Like Bartley-Fox, this law was designed to persecute anyone who didn’t fit government’s new culture of monitor, control and prosecute anyone who gets in their way.

More recently, a District Attorney from Bristol County began misusing the state’s “dangerousness statute”. This is a law that allows the courts to hold a suspect without bail if they have been declared a danger to society by the court. The DA began bringing people before the court to be held as dangerous for firearm violations. The problem is that he stated on a radio interview that he was making no distinction between a lawful citizen who simply didn’t have the right piece of paper and a three time violent felon.

As an example of this new culture, one of the most frightening statements I have heard from a government official recently was a District Attorney who when speaking to the media said, “I can find no law that allows this activity to take place.” This is a true reflection of our government has changed. There are no laws that “allow” citizens to do anything. Laws are put in place to ban activities, not allow them.

It is very clear that this cultural change that began with Bartley-Fox has led the Commonwealth to a time where the lawful and the criminal are blurred together and treated the same. Knowing this, no rational person can deny the need for immediate reform. GOAL’s Civil Rights and Public Safety Act ( is an attempt to address and reverse this culture of government. By clearly separating the lawful possession issues and criminal enforcement matters we can begin to restore sensibility in our government policies. Only when we return to the day when our government can distinguish a lawful citizen, who may not understand the law, and a hardcore criminal robbing a store, can we effectively begin to fight the true enemy – the human criminal element.

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  • 6/25/2009 12:00 PM George Taksery wrote:
    Having lived in this state all my life(53 years)and been an avid shooter since childhood,I know how it feels to live in "Kennedy Country".Every time I hear about how the PD confiscated X number of illegal guns I think back to Bartley/Fox and say"well,then,there should be X number of people going to jail"!We all know the reality of that!
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  • 8/31/2009 9:13 AM Chris Ri wrote:
    I wrote this letter to Governor Perdue of North Carolina a month ago.
    I work in law enforcement in Massachusetts and I am a Life Member of the NRA and GOAL in Massachusetts. I would like to thank you for signing House Bill 1132 and commend you for supporting the rights of law abiding citizens to protect themselves and others. I hope the people of North Carolina know how lucky they are to have a leader who understands the issues and uses common sense. I live in a state where common sense can’t be found in state government. A state that believes peoples rights should be taken away and only criminals and the police should have firearms. Governor Patrick could learn a lot from you and if you run into him show him this letter. If more people who set policy and made laws could understand one fact, CRIMINALS DON’T OBEY LAWS, this country would be much better of. Tougher, much tougher sentences is the way to deal with violent criminals not restricting law abiding citizens the right to protect themselves. Again, thank you and I hope your political career in very successful.

    PS We in Massachusetts who understand that this state is bassackwards when dealing with criminals must get gun owners to vote out the liberal Democrats who are ignorant about crime and criminals.
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  • 9/8/2009 7:46 AM Ross wrote:
    Great piece! Well done.
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  • 10/2/2009 3:55 PM carl wrote:
    who said "“I can find no law that allows this activity to take place.”"
    was it Coakley? and do you have a reference? event, date, topic of the press conference?

    Like you, I favor the negatory view of government, but I am curious as to the details.
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  • 10/2/2009 9:17 PM Joe wrote:
    Does GOAL propose to enlist the support of SAF, to address the regulatory misdeeds of the AG and Gov., re. their rabidly hopolphobic gun control agenda?

    Your proposal to revise the gun laws is vital, but so long as the general media ignore the underlying problem of misuse of power, how can it alone succeed?

    TV producers/directors love anything they can use for sound bytes. Maybe they should have a chance to 'cover' street distribution of printed 'fact sheets' by volunteers?

    Cite the (simplified) facts of Coakley's failure to represent the interests of the state's residents vs. the agenda of extremists. Point out the statistics re. gun violence and crime trends since this agenda was put into actual practice. Stress this was where the revolution began, and 'gin up' perspectives of the practices of our 'public servants' vs. the issues that lead our people to the revolution, and ask "How have we changed, that we now find our own citizens take these stands against their fellows?".

    Tone will be critical, as will examples selected, but given your commitment and information you already have acquired, that should be no problem? Cite examples that show capriciousness, double-standards, obstructionism, and selective disregard for verifiable truth. In a phrase, "Sic 'em" ..... let loose the voices of dissent, set them to cry, out the truth with sober facts in hand. Oh, and above all, pick with care the bones you would bring to the public view to fight over.
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  • 11/11/2009 3:03 PM chris wrote:
    The approach this state has taken over the last 30 years in regard to violent crime and criminals hasn’t worked, it has been a total failure. The politicians in this state should look at the vast majority (42) of other states where crime has gone down significantly and find out why.

    The citizens in this state take a back seat to criminals who for the most part have more rights and protection than the general public. As gun ownership has been drastically reduced due to very strict, confusing and expensive regulations imposed on law abiding gun owners. Many gun owners have chosen to give up and sell their firearms instead of trying to fight the unconstitutional regulation and fees imposed on them. I truly believe this was purposely done by the Democrats for that reason. The statistics clearly show this intentional policy of making gun ownership so complex and expensive that the majority have given up trying has backfired because criminals don’t care about laws, that’s why we call them criminals. Gun violence and violent crime continues to rise proving this ignorant policy doesn’t work!

    What does work, I have been a corrections officer for the last ten years. I take care and protect rapist, murderers, child molesters and gang members. I talk with these people five days a week. They aren’t afraid of police or going to prison, what scares criminals is armed citizens.

    If this state wants to reduce gun crime and gun violence they need to enforce the laws on the books and make the sentences fit the crime. Five years mandatory for a felon in position of a firearm. If a criminal commits a crime with a gun, ten years mandatory state prison. Shoot someone while committing a crime, twenty years mandatory. Kill someone while committing a crime, life no chance of parole. This should be incorporated with a Two Strike Law. the second conviction for a gun crime they go to prison for life. I guarantee that will reduce gun violence by 50% in two years.
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  • 12/9/2009 11:16 AM software developers wrote:
    Quite inspiring,

    Keep up the good work,

    Thanks for writing, most people don't bother.
    Reply to this
  • 3/5/2010 1:13 PM norman wrote:
    I find that the social immaturity that runs rampid in this state is at a unprecedented level.If project "EXILE", and the castle doctrine were passed in this state, then things would be better for law abiding citizens and also for law enforcement.I was in the service during the Regan administration and admired that man greatly.Truly a president of the people.Being an NRA life member and also a Goal life member,makes myself very politically active.I will hold my ground and do what is needed to get chapter 180 expelled from this state.I feel that Scott Brown can and will present change in this state.I have not had time to write him personally about this matter, but have the intention to do so. If he signs onto Goals bill H2259, we will see drastic change in this state.We the people have suffered enough for the acts of criminals in this state.I have had a license to carry since I was 18,(I believe), and still have it at age 45. It saved me twice from being mugged, once by gunpoint, the other by knife point.Merely opening my jacket and showing them that I was carrying, it ended there and the suspects ran away.As far as the political landscape of socialistic/liberal democrats go, they need to either be voted out of office, or be replaced by someone that believes in the US Constitution. You swear an oath to uphold the Constitution in many of these positions.So, when they start to take rights away from law abiding citizens, I see it as tyranny against the people. I am cut from a very old school of thought here, so please bear with me.My belief is that the current administration would strip our civil and Constitutional rights away now if they had the votes to do so.Jim Wallace is an exceptional advocate in representing the peoples side of gun ownership in mass.It can be turned around,BUT, we all have to stay together and be politically active for this to happen.NUMBERS! There is strength in numbers.The more people that join GOAL the better.That is what is defined as "political clout", for lack of a better term.If you read this and you somehow are not a member of Goal, then join them.Same goes for the NRA.If we get the numbers up, and those people contact there representative's, they can not pass these type of laws.It really is our fault for either running away in 1998 when chapter 180 was implemented, or not becoming politically active.Hence this is the outcome of that result.If you are not a resident of Mass, you can still join Goal.We need the numbers to go up to have a voice to be heard.Anyways, this is becoming more of a rant of sorts, but my intentions are for the people and always for the good of them. On another note, I also believe that if you run for office and do not prove you are believing or supporting the Constitution, you are finished with that position.You should not be allowed to hold a position that when appointed, you swore an oath to uphold.Our current president swore an oath to get that position, but seems to hate freedom in the US.
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    1. 1/31/2011 6:47 AM Erik wrote:
      Norman, "they need to either be voted out of office". While I agree, that is easier said than done. Look at this last election period. People were saying that if someone ran against Coakley they'd vote her out. Well, someone did, and she's still there. People were talking about how sick they were of Patrick, yet he remains. Voting these people out is the only way this once great state will become great again, and it's citizens free; however, that won't happen unless the people can be persuaded that is the only way.
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