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Massachusetts: Senate Introduces its Own Version of Gun Control Bill

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Call your state Senator Immediately to Oppose S.2265 

Late yesterday, the Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means Committee introduced its own version of gun control legislation, Senate Bill 2265.  This language is the replacement language for House Bill 4285, and will be considered on the Senate floor this Thursday, July 17. 

S.2265 is similar to H.4285 and still contains language that would create new "may issue" FID issuance standards by giving issuing authorities unlimited discretion to deny firearm identification cards and would require Massachusetts to submit unnecessary records to NICS, including records of individuals who are NOT prohibited from possessing a firearm under state or federal law.  The Senate version also contains a new provision that would deny a person who has had their firearms seized the ability to have their personal property transferred within ten days to a lawfully licensed individual.  Instead, law enforcement would be given the discretion to keep the firearms, sell them after a year and benefit from their profits.

It isn’t difficult to imagine how allowing issuing authorities discretion in the issuance of FID cards will be abused if S.2265 becomes law.  For example, a government official with a personal grudge against an applicant or an opposition to individual gun ownership could use almost any “bad” conduct in an applicant’s past to deny the applicant, which might include any number of menial acts that wouldn’t normally prohibit a person from possessing a firearm.  Simple speeding tickets might be enough to show that a person “has exhibited or engaged in behavior that suggests the applicant or card holder could potentially create a risk to public safety . . . .”  Like current law, denials of a FID card would be reviewable by a court, however, because S.2265 does not include a standard for review of a denial under the new discretionary provision, a court would likely review those decisions under a very deferential “abuse of discretion” standard, which, in layman’s terms means that very few discretionary denials would likely be overturned.

State Senators have until 5:00 p.m. today to file amendments to S.2265.  It is critical that you contact your state Senator NOW and urge him or her to file amendments removing the discretionary provision for FID issuance and removing the requirement that Massachusetts submit unnecessary records to NICS.  Urge them to OPPOSE S.2265 in its current form, and ask him or her how they plan to vote.

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