Mayor Thomas M. Menino today testified before the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security on steps the Legislature should take to strengthen laws that will reduce gun violence in the Commonwealth and Boston’s neighborhoods.
“While I will continue to fight at the federal level to address these serious flaws in our gun laws, our neighborhoods cannot wait for federal action. This Committee and this Legislature can create a safer Commonwealth today,” Mayor Menino testified. “Here in Massachusetts, we can do better, and improve our laws without infringing on the second amendment. This has nothing to do with gun control, and everything to do with crime control.”
The Mayor asked the Committee for its support on two key policies: bringing Massachusetts into compliance with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and creating stronger penalties for gun-related crimes.
Bill H.3256 filed by Representative Aaron Michlewitz would bring Massachusetts into compliance with NICS. Currently, Massachusetts does not transmit mental health records of those who have been deemed a danger to themselves or others, which would prevent those individuals from purchasing a gun.
Bill H.3249 filed by Representative Russell Holmes would create a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for illegal possession of a firearm for a convicted felon who has already been sentenced to 10 or more years. The goal of the bill is to ensure appropriate sentencing for the most violent repeat felons, while making sure that there is adequate rehabilitation for individuals ready to transition back into society. The bill would ensure every individual released is linked with assistance in housing, education, and employment training.
“Often, we are so focused on catching and punishing people who offend that we forget that these people usually come back to our neighborhoods – sometimes never learning any other way to live, other than committing crimes,” Mayor Menino said. “Without an effort to reform these people and give them the opportunity to lead lawful and productive lives, we will be locking them up again and again.”
Since January, 189 shootings have taken the lives of 25 individuals in the City of Boston. The Boston Police Department this year has recovered 477 illegal guns off Boston streets – a rate of almost two crime guns a day, every day. More than 60 percent of these guns come from other states – places like Maine, New Hampshire, Florida, and Georgia that do not have the laws needed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.