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Our state gun laws need some updates

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CommonWealth Magazine, May 2021

In Massachusetts, we often congratulate ourselves for having strong gun laws. And we should.  Evidence shows that there are fewer gun violence fatalities here than in states with laxer laws.  In 2019 and 2020, Massachusetts was rated as the state with the lowest rate of gun deaths by The Education Fund to Stop Gun Violence.

But we must not be complacent.  In 2019 alone, 247 individuals were killed with guns in Massachusetts and countless more were injured. There is a more we can and should do to guarantee public safety, to protect our children from senseless gun violence, and to minimize the potential that dangerous people will have access to dangerous guns.  Without careful attention to keeping our gun laws up-to-date, mass shootings and other traumatic gun violence are not just likely in Massachusetts, they are inevitable.

Here is a proposed agenda:

Tighten the Commonwealth’s assault weapons ban.  A mountain of evidence establishes that assault weapons have been used disproportionately across the country in mass shootings and in murders of law enforcement officers. They were used, for example, at Columbine, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Las Vegas, at the Pulse night club and most recently at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.In 2014, Attorney General Maura Healy investigated the sale of assault weapons in Massachusetts and found that tens of thousands of such weapons were being sold despite a longstanding state law banning their sale.  She then reminded the public, by issuing an enforcement notice, that under state law, copies and duplicates of highly lethal weapons like the AR-15 and the AK 47 are just as prohibited for sale and possession in Massachusetts as the weapons they are designed to imitate.

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