NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 14, 2013

Anti-violence group wraps up work on new study

BOSTON -- The head of a gun violence task force that will make policy recommendations said Friday that he hopes for unanimity in the group and said efforts to limit gun violence in Massachusetts should be judged against the success of other industrialized nations.

“We may have moved to a place where our comparison shouldn’t be other states, but maybe we want to look at other industrialized countries, and where our rate of gun violence is 3.2 percent, in other industrialized countries it’s 1.4 percent,” Jack McDevitt, chairman of the task force, told a small group of reporters Friday afternoon. “There’s ways we can continue to make inroads into reducing gun violence.”

The Dec. 14, 2012 massacre of 20 first-graders and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. renewed the sometimes caustic debate on gun policy in Massachusetts and other states. Lawmakers have proposed a variety of gun law changes, but no single proposal has gathered momentum.

McDevitt said the task force – which held its last information-gathering meeting Friday and plans to have the report written before January – made no effort to wrap up its work in conjunction with the anniversary and said he decided to brief the news media because the issue has garnered interest.

“It wasn’t around Newtown,” McDevitt said.

Stop Handgun Violence founder John Rosenthal said his group put up a new billboard Friday at its site near Fenway Park, which will display the projected number of gun deaths in the United States since Sandy Hook, beginning at 32,833.

Rosenthal told the News Service the number is based on the 30-year-average and may be “conservative.” In 2010, the latest year of Center for Disease Control data, there were about 11,000 gun murders, 19,000 suicides and 1,200 accidental gun deaths.

“I’m waiting to read the report like everybody else. I’m hopeful but not optimistic,” Rosenthal said, about the task force. “I just have a sense that the Legislature is going to not enact meaningful improvements to our already very effective gun laws.”

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