NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

June 7, 2014

Anderson: Checking in on Massachusetts: gun controls, welfare and more

Spring has finally arrived in Massachusetts: The birds are singing; I need a break from national and international insanity. Time to again check in on Massachusetts.

This week, there was a hearing at the Statehouse on H.4121, Speaker DeLeo’s proposed gun legislation. A member of the Gun Owners Action League, I trust the analysis of GOAL’s chairman, Jim Wallace, who testified that his organization had hoped it could support the bill because it has some good provisions: addressing mental health issues, punishing criminals who commit carjacking and home invasions with firearms and streamlining license renewals.

However, GOAL is disappointed that the issue of chiefs’ discretion has not been addressed and has actually been expanded to include FID cards. For years now, GOAL has documented the many abuses of this clause, which essentially gives the 351 Massachusetts chiefs of police final say over who has civil rights in their own town, with no due process for the citizen.

In my town, the police chief seems to understand the Second Amendment, but citizens in some other Massachusetts communities aren’t so lucky.

Gov. Deval Patrick doesn’t think the bill goes far enough to stem the tide of illegal gun trafficking, but I don’t see what that has to do with most of us. However, I’m glad to hear that his administration understands some part of “illegal,” though it doesn’t seem inclined to stem the tide of illegal immigrants.

There’s just a short time left to get the gun bill right; the legislative session ends July 31. Other important issues remain in conference committee to be resolved before that, or held until after the election. One that should be done immediately is the welfare reform bill, with some provisions added by Rep. Shaunna O’Connell (R-Taunton) and her House supporters to address EBT card reform.

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