The Massachusetts House of Representatives approved H.4517, “An Act Relative to Firearms” last night with a 139-14 vote. The legislation will next move to the MA Senate for further debate.
May 24, 2018
A bill with ever changing intent cleared the MA House of Representatives yesterday by a wide margin. The bill, which started off months ago, as a supposed mental health bill intended to prevent suicide and mass murder, morphed twice in one week. Two days prior to the bill going to the floor for a vote, it was completely re-written and renamed by the House Ways & Means Committee. Released with the new title, “An Act Relative to Firearms”, the bill emerged from the committee as a pure gun confiscation bill.
During last night’s debate on the House floor Representative Nick Boldyga, a former law enforcement officer spoke in favor of an amendment, which would have provided mental health services to those subject to an ERPO.
The bills proponents quickly dismissed this, declaring the legislation to be a “gun-licensing bill”. They declared that debate over Extreme Risk Protection Orders was not the place to discuss providing mental health services.
Several members of the Republican caucus led by Representative Joe McKenna then stood and argued, asking how a bill intended to prevent suicides and mass murder is no place to discuss providing mental health services to those in need? Representative Paul Frost also addressed the body; passionately asking, “how is it that we are identifying the next potential mass murderer, and then setting them free?” (p)
GOAL was deeply disappointed by the amendment debate that followed, as every opportunity to provide help to people in need, and protect civil rights was soundly defeated.
GOAL would like to thank all of the people who took the floor to speak for civil rights and mental health care: Representatives Joe McKenna, Brad Hill, Paul Frost, Shaunna O’Connell, Shawn Donnelly, Nick Boldyga.
The bill is now moving onto the senate as a “gun licensing” bill. We will keep our members appraised and release an action item soon.
Thank you to these members of MA House for voting against the legislation.
Representative Colleen Garry, Representative Jon Zlotnik, Representative Susan Gifford, Representative Paul Frost, Representative Donald Berthiaume, Representative Kate Campanale, Representative David DeCoste, Representative Geoff Diehl, Representative Peter Durant, Representative Kevin Kuros, Representative Joe McKenna, Representative David Muradian, Representative Shaunna O’Connell, Representative Susannah Whipps