U.S.A. — Massachusetts Democrats have put their sweeping gun control scheme (HD 4420) on hold for the next several weeks, during which the head of the state’s Gun Owners Action League says his group will “ramp things up,” and it appears to be largely due to the effects of the 2022 Supreme Court’s Bruen ruling.
According to Fox News, there are disagreements between the two Democrat-led legislative chambers over whose committee will hold hearings. The bill spans 140 pages, and according to GOAL Executive Director Jim Wallace, it is even more unconstitutional than the state law(s) it is designed to replace. GOAL is a state affiliate of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
Wallace isn’t alone in his criticism. Fox News quoted Republican State Rep. Nick Boldyga, who called the measure “the most egregious and blatantly unconstitutional bill” he has seen during the 12 years he has been in office. He has vowed to oppose the bill if it comes to the House floor.
According to the State House News Service and WBUR news, Democrat House Speaker Ron Mariano blames “the new legal landscape” created by last year’s Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. While that decision dealt with New York’s unconstitutional concealed carry permitting law, it has had a ripple effect reaching all the way to California and Hawaii. The ruling has opened up other states’ laws to legal challenge. In Massachusetts, lawmakers are trying to double down, Wallace intimated, and his group is fighting back.
In a statement posted on the GOAL website, Wallace was blunt: “It is painfully clear that, whoever actually drafted the bill, had no idea the firestorm of opposition it would set off. It was painfully obvious to anyone who paid attention that the, so-called, ‘listening tour’ was a sham from the beginning. Even the opposition to the Second Amendment during the tour continually said that lawful gun owners were not the problem.”
Meanwhile, Mariano said in a statement (posted on the GOAL website) that the Bruen decision “is why the House believes that we must thoroughly evaluate all of the proposals made in [the legislation] over the Summer, and that House Members must have the chance to continue to speak with their constituents and provide feedback.”
GOAL quotes the Mariano statement made on July 24: “As you have heard me say many times, the Bruen decision fundamentally changed how courts review state gun laws and immediately jeopardized aspects of the laws that have made our Commonwealth a national leader in reducing gun violence. While the House’s commitment to pursuing a comprehensive update remains steadfast, a new legal landscape will be the greatest threat to those efforts.”
So, what’s in HD 4420 that Bay State gun rights activists find so offensive? A lot, and GOAL’s Wallace is dissecting it on the group’s website. He calls the measure the “Lawful Citizens Imprisonment Act.”
HD 4420 includes language on so-called “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines,” safe storage, new training mandates, and the creation of a “special legislative commission to examine the existing government funding structure for violence prevention services in the Commonwealth, including funding sources, initiatives and programs utilized, specific services funded, and communities served, and submit a report of its findings and recommendations.”
The group has posted a lengthy critique of the legislation, which may be read here, but it boils down to this terse remark: “This bill actually doubles down on the unconstitutional current laws by adding a tremendous volume of new unconstitutional sections of law. It represents a blatant violation of the Supreme Court decision – Bruen.”
Just one example cited by GOAL in its point-by-point criticism addresses the proposed new training requirements. GOAL says the new requirements include Injury prevention and harm reduction education, active shooter and emergency response training when lawful gun owners are not allowed to carry in most places under this bill, applicable laws relating to the use of force, de-escalation and disengagement tactics, and live firearms training – to be determined by the State Police. There is also a “written exam of unknown content.”
GOAL is asserting, “This is essentially SWAT training for everyone 15 years of age and over. No such certified training courses currently exist to meet these standards. Such a course, if it did exist, would likely take a week to teach at a cost of thousands of dollars. This would eliminate people from being able to afford to exercise their civil rights.”
Fox News describes Democrats’ stall as a “tactical retreat.” GOAL’s Wallace, on the other hand, considers it something of a gift of time for his organization to educate gun owners about the problems with the legislation.
About Dave Workman
Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.