On June 24, 2004 at approximately 11:20 AM , the Senate took the last legislative vote on S.2367 and sent it to Governor Romney`s desk for his consideration. Representing the greatest set of firearm law reforms since the passage of the Commonwealth`s worst in the nation gun laws, S.2367 is a breath of fresh air for law abiding gun owners. Governor Romney is expected to sign the bill into law later this week.
While not perfect by any means, this bill represents a step forward for gun owners in Massachusetts. The bill was passed in the Senate by a vote of 36 - 1 in favor and the House passed it with no amendments or debate on a "voice" vote. This represented by far the broadest support a reform bill has ever seen in the Massachusetts State House. Only one legislator in the entire building voiced opposition to the bill.
S.2367 does the following:
- Instructs the Executive Director of the Criminal History Systems Board to make the Firearms Identification Card and the License To Carry a Firearm the same size as a driver`s license;
- Changes the term of a Firearms Identification Card and a License to Carry to six years;
- Creates a grace period of 90 days, if the Firearms Identification Card or License to Carry holder applies for renewal before the expiration date, and if the application for renewal is not denied;
- Creates a Firearms Licensing Review Board. Applicants disqualified by a misdemeanor record, from obtaining a License To Carry or Firearms Identification Card, may file a petition for review of eligibility with the board, five years after conviction, adjudication, commitment, probation or parole;
- and in the case where an officer is confiscating the guns of a person with an expired license, requires the officer to provide a written inventory and receipt for all guns.
Despite the efforts of some (including The Boston Globe) to spin this bill as an extension of or creation of a new "Assault Weapons" ban, the bill makes no net changes to the Commonwealth`s laws regarding those types of firearms. The three sections referencing them merely dealt with re-affirming the definitions of what an "Assault Weapon" could be.
Here are just some of the points that the media (including The Boston Globe) got wrong.
Myth: Some headlines claimed that the legislature voted to expand the ban on the sale of the same 19 guns that the federal government has banned.
Fact: The guns are already banned in Massachusetts . The legislature only voted to clarify the definition of so-called "assault weapons," but made no changes to the number of guns included.
Myth: The gun ban was extended.
Fact: Our state`s gun ban was not due to disappear, nor will it become invalid if the federal ban sunsets in September.
Myth: The legislature somehow "won over" gun-rights supporters by including reforms.
Fact: NRA and Gun owners` Action League (GOAL) had made it very clear to the legislature that we would not give up any ground. NRA and GOAL supported this bill because it did not ban any guns, and because it made much-needed reforms.
Myth: Those legislators that wanted to expand the semi-auto gun ban claimed that they "spearheaded" S.2367.
Fact: Credit should be given to Senator Stephen Brewer (D- Barre) and Senator Richard T. Moore (D - Uxbridge) for the reform language.
Myth: The Massachusetts House approved a new version of the ban that would decouple the state definitions from the federal ones.
Fact: The bill merely takes the existing state references to federal law, and fixes the language to a point in time in 1994. Because that is the federal language is currently in effect, the net effect on Massachusetts gun owners is zero. No new gun bans are banned. Keep in mind that the state language in effect before this bill was NEVER set to expire.
With that in mind, NRA members should be very pleased in knowing that their efforts to educate and work with their local representatives and senators resulted in a successful reform action.
Thanks to you and the Gun Owners` Action League, lawful gun owners can now take advantage of this first set of real reforms in over five years.
For more information concerning this legislation you can contact ILA Grassroots at 1-800-392-8683 or the Gun Owners` Action League at 508-393-5333.