Do You Agree With Gov. Patrick's Proposals to Restrict Guns and Boost Mental Health Services?

The governor unveiled legislation Wednesday to strengthen gun laws in Massachusetts while increasing funding for mental health services. Sensible or reactionary?


Are new proposed laws regarding guns in Massachusetts and mental health services sensible and pragmatic steps, or reactionary measures that won't increase safety?

Gov. Deval Patrick introduced new legislation Wednesday along those lines in the wake of the onn.

"I am encouraged by the palpable consensus in our Legislature that the time for action is now. All of us must pull in the same direction to bring about real change in this state and across the country," Patrick said in a press release. 

The bill would, among other things:

  • Close a loophole that now allows people to buy guns at gun shows without undergoing a background check
  • Limits the number of weapon sales by licensed dealers to not more than one per licensed individual a month

Punishments for crimes involving guns would also sharpen, with tiered punishments for possessing different weapons on school property and giving police the authority to arrest without a warrant in order to quickly defuse a dangerous situation on school property.

Patrick's bill would enhance background checks by requiring courts to transmit all relevant mental health records to the state's criminal justice information system, which would result in this information being included in a national registry that all states access before issuing gun licenses.

The state Department of Mental Health would also get a 3.3 percent increase in the governor's fiscal 2014 budget proposal, with funding for team to travel to locations with individuals in crisis; training for middle and high school personnel in recognizing and addressing mental illness in students; and more funding for crisis intervention training for first responders, among other initiatives.

Gun ownership advocates are not happy; they have argued that stricter gun control laws have not reduced gun violence, but instead just places additional burdens on lawful gun owners. Jim Wallace, president of the Gun Owners Action League, the NRA affiliate in Massachusetts, told WBUR that current Massachusetts gun laws that passed in 1998 have been an "abject failure" and that they're "complicated and convoluted" for lawful gun owners to understand. 

"What we know here in Massachusetts is that in 1998 when the gun control act was passed, we had 1.5 million licensed gun owners in this state," Wallace told WBUR. "We are now down to about 230,000 to 250,000. And the sad part is while our numbers have been reduced by 85 percent, gun crime has increased by 200 percent."

Wallace added that the laws and lawmakers are "focusing way too much on the good guys and not nearly enough on the bad guys."

What do you think of the governor's proposal? Are these pragmatic reforms, or will they be ineffective in reducing gun violence? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

dan February 23, 2013 at 02:05 PM
Steven Cavaretta, How many people were saved because they had guns during those years?
dan February 23, 2013 at 02:06 PM
any history book will give you the source
dan February 24, 2013 at 03:48 PM
JB Why did the ACLU stop the law that would have allowed the mother to put her son in a locked up hospital? Shhe Tried and was stopped and She probably had the guns locked up; however, after killing her, then, he found access to the guns.
JB February 24, 2013 at 04:17 PM
@ dan Assuming your question is rhetorical, IMO, the salient correlation I note is yet another example of an organization/interest group (although more to the left than right) thwarting a law from being passed which could have prevented the tragedy. Given the contention of; 'We don't need any more laws' aimed at gun control, I'd say the ACLU nixing a law which could have prevented the tragedy is just another example of 'if we did', maybe this tragedy could have been prevented. In response to: "Why did the ACLU stop the law that would have allowed the mother to put her son in a locked up hospital? Shhe Tried and was stopped and She probably had the guns locked up; however, after killing her, then, he found access to the gun."
Jerry Reilly February 24, 2013 at 05:43 PM
If the intent of a background check is to prevent guns from falling into the hands of people we agree shouldn't have them AND if 40% of gun sold in this country don't require background checks - how can anyone say that there are no loopholes?
dan February 24, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Jerry Reilly using yor 40% of gun sold, most are from father ginving a gun to a son, daughter or other relative or friend.
JB February 24, 2013 at 06:57 PM
If that's the case, then legal gun owners should also be required to report any transfer of ownership; lost, stolen or given as gifts. Ironically, when you think about it, the 'wrong hand gets the gun from the right hand'. That is to say illegal possession can be linked to getting the gun from a legal owner, directly or indirectly further along the chain of how they can be passed from one to another. I say that with no blame to the 'rightful' gun owners. Just sayin' given this correlation, it explains some of the reasoning behind proposals that do put some constraints on the legal gun owners.
Michael Fleming February 24, 2013 at 07:17 PM
One of the problems I see is the issue of registration of weapons. It would seem reasonable to require gun owners to register thir weapons. But it also seems reasonable to require voters to show some form of ID when voting. But the left paints a slippery slope argument and states that such a requirement could or would lead to voter suppression tactics. There is a profound amount of distrust behind anti fraud steps that could be taken. Similarly, registration of weapons is accompanied by a large amount of distrust as well. Once guns are registered, weapons round ups would be a whole lot easier by any tyrannical impulse that might emanate from a party in power inclined to "nanny state" it's citizens. This current administration comes to mind. Do you folks see what is happening here? What the left fears about voting rights is ignored in gun rights. They are not equal in their views. Nor do they even pretend to. Their intent is to make gun owners anathema in the public square (which they control) just as smokers were. But those who want real voters voting in our elections are portrayed as racist vote suppresors. Soon, gun rights advocates will be painted as similar backward tobacco chewing racists. (the racial arguments always come out when arguing with a liberal)
JB February 24, 2013 at 08:22 PM
With voting, ID or not, they check off your name and address. Also, where you can vote is limited to specific districts for your address. Theoretically, that could lead to someone faking it where the rightful person of that address got screwed out of a vote. There would have to be a precedent or problem with people going to polls and and finding someone else faked it and hence screwed them out of a vote for the ID requirement to be entertained and pushed further. When guns are registered, that's what makes it easier to track transfer of ownership and circumstances relating to that. Like was the gun stolen, given a way or sold to an unlicensed person. Information as to how the 'bad guys' get the guns is needed by keeping track of the 'good guys' who legally own the guns in the event of any illegal 'transfer of ownership'. Theoretically, you could contend that some tyranny will come forth and seize all the weapons from the legal owners. But pragmatically speaking, the intent is just to keep better track of how guns are passed from from legal owners to illegal owners since a lot of the problem at hand is that the 'illegal' owners or 'bad guys with guns' get them from the legal owners. This country is having a big problems with guns. It could be described as 'guns are out of control' given all the crimes committed with them which is why the current administration is being pressed to come up with more ways for more control of them.
Michael Fleming February 24, 2013 at 10:27 PM
JB There are many pragmatic reasons for BOTH the ID for voters as well as gun registration. Your note that they check off your name and address when you vote means nothing if they don't connect your face to that address. Drivers licenses do that just fine. Your list of pragmatic reasons for gun registration is also valid. But what I DON'T understand is why one side thinks one of those requirements are valid but not the other. If you are for requiring gun owners to register, why are you AGAINST requiring the same for who decides who runs this country? Presidents with war powers are FAR more dangerous than law abiding citizens that own guns.
JB February 24, 2013 at 10:50 PM
IDs go hand in hand with having a licence to do something (drive) or have something (gun). IDs really don't go hand in hand with something you don't need a licence to do like vote. Voters do have to register though even if they don't bring their IDs with them to vote.
Michael Fleming February 24, 2013 at 11:22 PM
Perhaps I am confusing you with the word "registration". Let me put it in simpler terms: gun registration...good. Voter ID....bad. Does that pretty much sum up your views? My view: what's good for goose is good for the gander. You want to tout the benefits of gun registration? Well then you need to understand that identifying those who vote and those who own guns ought to be on a reasonably sane citizens list of things to do. I don't see any difference in logic.
JB February 24, 2013 at 11:57 PM
My views are based on the fact that US citizens have right to vote. A certain percentage of US citizens don't have driver's licence, passport or proper ID and it's difficult for them to get them. Yet, they still have right to vote. A stiff ID law tends toward depriving them of that right. It's also based on my feeling that the country needs more voters and fewer guns.
Michael Fleming February 25, 2013 at 02:13 AM
JB See? RIght there. Selective reasoning. You see citizens having the right to vote, and anything...ANYTHING that might that right microscopically more rigorous (I mean, c'mon, how hard is it to show an ID or your gas bill to someone?). But somehow, in listing rights of citizens, the right guaranteed by an actual amendment to keep and bear arms...why, that didn't make your list of imperatives. You emphasize one right, but dismiss off handedly one of equal value. Why? Because YOU don't like guns. So protecting that right just doesn't really get your attention, does it? My point, sir, is that logic dictates that we should all care about all of our rights, whether it's the right to have an abortion, the right to organize a labor union, the right to bear arms, the right to limit voting to just citizens of this country. ALL OF THEM are important. Once you lose your right for anything, you never get it back. Ever. When you start reserving your ire for rights that only you care for, then asking others to help your cause is futile, since you didnt help them when theirs were threatened. It sort of makes you and others equally selective about protecting rights, hypocrites. I think rights that i like are important, but yours? ...naw.
Nashoba Liberty February 25, 2013 at 05:06 AM
JB, legal gun owners are already required to report the transfer of ownership of firearms, whether sold or given as gifts. Thus the Mass. FA-10 form. All legal gun owners I know also would immediately report those lost or stolen. This is not a new constraint.
Nashoba Liberty February 25, 2013 at 05:08 AM
Well said. Also note that JB uses the typical terminology "I feel" when attempting to articulate his view that we should have as many voters as possible along with as few guns as possible. Feelings are not rational arguments.
Michael Fleming February 25, 2013 at 12:06 PM
The use of emotion in left wing politics is being ramped up. Note the appeals Obama is making when touring the country trying to scare the heck out of citizens with stories of furloughing cops and meat inspectors and air traffic controllers. When reducing budgets, each department will choose where the cuts will occur. They will choose the most painful to try to tar republicans with an idea that was Obamas and Jack Lew's. Pure emotionalism, and a really BAD way to lead the country.
M C Stringfellow February 25, 2013 at 01:46 PM
Dan, did you read some of those posts. my comments had nothing to do with her argument and everything to do with her well being. I can be abrupt at times, but I did apologize to her . I will not apologize to you for caring about someone's health. Where do you get off calling me "elite"? Talk about degrading and insinuation. not okay for others, but okay for you.
JB February 25, 2013 at 02:49 PM
@ Nashoba The use of the term "I feel" is interchangeable with saying "in my opinion". Also, the use of the term "I feel" is more common for females to use when expressing opinions. Opinions and differing ones are at the core of arguments in favor or against something and come into play during debates. Not to mention the opening phrase of the author of the article was: "What do you THINK about the govs..proposal?" For all intents and purposes, the use of term; "I feel" is interchangeable with term; "in my opinion".
JB February 25, 2013 at 03:53 PM
There are a group of citizens, all of whom have the right to vote, who don't have the 'official' ID to do so. According to my readings, the demographic is the poor, elderly and minority groups and is about 10% of population of eligible voters. Given that particular demographic, it appears discriminatory to make having an official ID a contingency for voting. Also given that the demographic is highly unlikely to vote Republican and it was said that Romney could have won IF that demographic were not allowed to vote, I understand how this could be a bone of contention for some who would have liked to preclude that demographic from voting. Rights to do something (like to keep and bear arms) are still there. It's just that it's not a 'carte blanch' thing with no limitations. Limitations regarding that right depend on observing how the arms (guns) are being used. Presently, they are being used way outside of the spirit of how the Constitution intended the right to be granted. Hence proposals to balance that right so that there are not too many 'wrongs' along with it.
David Chesler February 25, 2013 at 04:16 PM
JB, we probably differ on what that spirit is. Those who think it is their as an ultimate protection against tyranny (thereby making that tyranny less likely) think the 99.5% of guns that are not misused are being used exactly as intended, same as that fire extinguisher in the kitchen (He also serves that stands and waits).
Mike Hullinger February 25, 2013 at 04:40 PM
JB. The Constitution does not grant a right to own a firearm because the Constitution provides no enumerated power to the Federal Government to infringe upon a citizens' ownership of firearms. Read Federalist 46 for James Madison's commentary on the "the advantage" owning firearms provides to the citizens in our country. His comment was prior to the Second Amendment, pointing out both that there was no Constitutional power given to Congress to restrict gun ownership, and why it was important for an armed citizenry to exist in the first place. The intention of the Second Amendment, as with the other amendments styled as the "Bill of Rights," was to reaffirm by declaration what Congress (or any other Federal entity) has no authority to do under the Constitution in the first place, in this instance to infringe on the right of the People to keep and bear arms. When someone says "I have right to keep and bear arms" they are doing so, not because the Constitution or Congress have given them this right, rather it is because the individual retains this original right the same as all other individual rights not surrendered to the Federal Government through the enumerated powers provided the Federal Government by the Constitution. Possesing the right originally and not surrendering that right to the Federal Government by Consitutional grants of power is an important distinction from a citizen having the ability to own a gun becuase of a right granted by the Constitution.
JB February 25, 2013 at 04:57 PM
@ David Chesler: Well we could differ on what the spirit is. But maybe we could agree that some of the gun use that has come under fire (no pun intended) is outside of the spirit. Regarding "99.5% of guns NOT being misused", this percentile, as stated, tells us nothing about the total number of guns out there being used as intended or misused. For example, lets say we have 1000 objects which could be 'used as intended' or 'misused'. If 500 of those objects are used as intended and 500 are misused, one could make the statement; '100% of the objects "not misused" are therefore used as intended. Well, ya, one could say that about the 50% of objects not being misused (100% of the 50% of all objects 'not being misused' are not being misused.) One needs to relate back percentages to the TOTAL number of objects where 'X' of them are used as intended by 'Y' of them are misused.
JB February 25, 2013 at 05:37 PM
@ Mike Hullinger Well, you make a compelling argument here which admittedly I'm at a loss to counter based on your presentation. I admit that I'm thinking in terms of 'how to deal with all these gun mishaps' as is the present admin in response to them and also that attempts to 'deal' with the gun problem are outside of what you are putting forth here.
Mike Hullinger February 25, 2013 at 08:17 PM
JB, The issue of "gun mishaps" and how to deal with the problem of people who commit "mishaps" with guns is a worthwhile discussion. The crime of murder, if committed within a State is in most instances a State matter, and the Mass legislature should review existing laws to ascertain how to better, if possible, deal with the issue of people who commit gun mishaps. Revising punishments should certainly be considered. However, when considering arresting without warrants or adding even more laws to control gun ownership we should proceed cautiously. As someone once said, "Pretenses to support ambition are never wanting." Recognizing the State has all the leverage in imposing new restrictions on gun ownership by passing a law and forcing a private citizen to spend their private resources to challenge the law, we need to caution our elected representatives to not get overly ambitious in their actions related to ownership of guns, and not use the pretense of the recent horrible crimes committed by evil people to undermine the Second Amendment or even the Massachusetts Constitution.
JB February 25, 2013 at 09:31 PM
@ Mike Hullinger Yes and the discussion here is what one thinks of the new gun control proposals. One could also ask if they undermine the 2nd amendment and if so do the proposals in light of the present gun problem 'justify' that. (I think I saw some link to a survey on here that asked the question in that way.) In response to: "JB The issue of "gun mishaps" and how to deal with the problem...."
Michael Fleming February 26, 2013 at 04:01 AM
Then feel free not to participate...
David Chesler February 26, 2013 at 04:09 AM
Of course some of it is. Using a gun to commit crimes is not why the federal and so many state constitutions protect the right to keep and bear arms. The overwhelming majority of guns (my 99.5% was, like 87% of all quoted statistics, made up :-) ) are not used criminally. The actual number is up there, not 100% of 50% (not sure where you were going with that) but compare the number of guns in this country (approximately 1 per person I believe, of course not uniformly distributed) with the number of times per year a gun is used criminally. I don't think anyone has suggested that murder is constitutionally protected, even if it is committed using a gun. Where many gun owners object to proposed measures is they go well beyond prohibiting murder, rather they criminalize possession or acquisition of certain guns by law-abiding citizens. That ownership is within the spirit of what was protected by the 2nd Amendment and similar state provisions.
Melanie Graham (Editor) February 26, 2013 at 01:59 PM
A comment has been removed from this thread for violating our Terms of Use.
Joe Deveau February 28, 2013 at 03:30 PM
Don't forget more prisons. a 50 thousand bed facility would suit me.


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