Yesterday the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security held a public hearing for many Second Amendment related bills in room A1 of the State House.

11/16/17 Public Hearing – MA State House Room A1

Yesterday the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security held a public hearing for many Second Amendment related bills in room A1 of the State House.

The room was beyond full, standing room only with people sitting in some aisles between the seating areas. As usual the Stop/Moms coalition was in full attendance, wearing their orange tee shirts and stop sign stickers.

The hearing began with opening remarks from Senator Mike Moore who laid out the ground rules for the hearing, how much time people have to testify, no cheering/booing, etc. As soon as the hearing was underway a person in attendance asked to speak, requesting that citizens get to speak before the panels of legislators and lobbyists, and that the committee members stay for the entire hearing. The committee did not recognize this request and seemed very disinterested throughout the hearing.

The first few panels that testified were law enforcement officers and medical professionals who testified in favor of H.2496, An Act Providing Wellness Training for Police Officers. This legislation would provide funding and resources for law enforcement officers to give them better training dealing with stress and PTSD, with the ultimate goal of suicide prevention.

Senator Chang-Diaz testified next in favor of her bill, S.1287. She began with statistics from high profile mass murders and reminded the panel that we have the strongest gun laws in the nation. She cited that a large percentage of crime guns come from out of state, then testified that the solution is limiting how many guns can be purchased/sold in MA, and for tracking “secondary gun sales” in MA. She also testified that a loophole needs to be closed; that would require gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms in 24 hours. Lastly she urged the MA legislature to do what Congress has not and made a plea to pass more restrictive laws.

During testimony nearly every person who requested more restriction and regulation tried to claim that MA has some of the lowest crime rates in the country. As we’ve covered before, this is not the case, according to the latest FBI statistics, there are 33 states with lower violent crime rates than MA. The people who were citing the “low crime” stats were using manipulated data provided by the gun prohibitionists.

State Representative Marjorie Decker caused quite a stir when she testified. Among her lowlights were “the Second Amendment is a privilege, not a right” and “nobody has the right to own anything that can cause bodily harm to others”. See our latest podcast for her full testimony.

Representative Linsky of Natick testified next, both in favor of his legislation and against all of GOAL’s major reform proposals. Among his proposals are a renewed ban on commonly owned magazines that hold more than ten rounds and mandatory insurance for licensed gun owners. He also testified with fervor against GOAL’s suppressor bill, citing all kinds of mistruths about suppressors and their use in the 42 states where they are legal.

GOAL member Mandy Deveno testified next, speaking in favor of suppressor legislation and legislation aimed at repealing AG Healey’s unilateral decision. She also called Linsky’s mandatory insurance bill “asinine” and asked the committee what else will need to be insured, should this pass?

During the public hearing it became very clear that the gun prohibition crowd is very worried about MA becoming the 43rd state to legalize suppressors. One after another the orange tee shirt crowd rose to testify, citing mistruths about crime rates, and the decibel level of firearms with suppressors.

Stop Handgun Violence Director John Rosenthal also testified, sounding for all the world like a person who has become unhinged. Some of his highlights include stating that President Trump owns shares in companies that make suppressors and that the NRA gave President Trump’s campaign $50 million in order to ensure the laws at the national level are passed (thus benefitting Trump’s companies). He also spoke in favor of banning “assault weapons” etc. and spoke with morbid fascination about bullet wounds caused by an AR15, you could sense that he is almost obsessed by the thought.

After a couple of hours of testimony, as the temperature of the room continued to climb, GOAL’s Executive Director Jim Wallace was called to testify. Mr. Wallace gave testimony that focused on the Second Amendment and how many elected officials in Massachusetts disrespect it. He cited how our courts still recognize an ancient SCOTUS decision in favor of the KKK as a means of justifying their failure to recognize it as an equal right. Citing this disrespect he testified for GOAL’s bill, H.1296, As Act Relative to Constitutional Rights, filed by Rep. Jim Miceli.

This legislation creates a new section of law that provides a presumption that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual civil right. For many years the courts and law enforcement entities have been confused due to the state’s poorly written laws. With a clearly defined presumption of rights, lawful citizens will be saved unnecessary harassment. Likewise the courts and law enforcement will no longer waste time and resources on lawful citizens simply exercising their civil rights.

It also provides protections against other government entities in the state from passing laws and regulations restricting that right. This will avoid a potential patchwork of laws across the Commonwealth that causes confusion.

John Hohenwater from the NRA spoke next, mirroring many of Jim’s comments about disrespect for the Second Amendment and how it deserves equal protection. He also spoke in favor of the suppressor bill, noting that there is no issue, nor has there been in the 42 states where ownership is legal.

John was followed by Jake McGuigan from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, or NSSF. Jake’s testimony centered on the efforts of his organization to “fix NICS”. The NSSF has done great work in ensuring that records about dangerous people are being submitted to the NICS system. A real and effective means of stopping dangerous people from acquiring firearms through licensed retailers.

The last member of the pro 2A committee to testify was Knox Williams. Knox is the executive director of the American Suppressor Association and has done tremendous work in educating people across the nation about suppressors. They provide real scientific data about decibel rates and use that cuts right through the hyperbole submitted by the gun prohibition crowd, who are clearly being obstructionists by fighting legalization of suppressors.

Many people on both sides of the issue followed, speaking on both sides of the issue. We hope that the committee members will recognize facts from hyperbole and vote accordingly.

We look forward to the committee report, which we will most likely not see until after the holidays.

Public Hearing Report – November 16 2017
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