MA Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence Plans Action Day at the State House

Coalition collage

Join the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence State House Action Day on November 6, 2013. It is time for our elected officials not just to listen, but to answer. This press event and lobbying day is your opportunity to make our collective priorities heard, by showing up and telling important decision makers one-on-one that we demand meaningful gun violence prevention legislation in order to curb the violence in all our communities. Register now so that we know how many people will be visiting each elected official. Click here for a flyer to print and share.

When: November 6, 2013
Where: Boston State House Grand Staircase Second Floor
Time: 10:00am- 12:30pm

Coalition’s Key Priorities for New Gun Legislation:

  1. Require background checks every time a gun is sold.
  2. Expand police chiefs’ discretion to deny gun licensees when appropriate.
  3. Limit gun sales to one gun per month.
  4. Collect data to better determine where crime guns are coming from.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell Speaks Out On Illegal Guns

New Bedford, Massachusetts–Mayor Jon Mitchell testified today on behalf of the group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), in favor of measures that will help curb the threat posed by illegal firearms.

The Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, chaired by House Chairman Harold Naughton and Senate Chairman James Timilty, is holding the first in a series of public hearings throughout the Commonwealth. Today’s hearing was held at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable.

Mayor Mitchell encouraged state lawmakers to build on the Commonwealth’s status as a leader in common sense gun safety legislation while MAIG continues to focus its efforts at the federal level and demand Congress address the gun violence epidemic.

“My prior experience as a federal prosecutor has had a deep and lasting influence on my views on illegal guns. Having spent nearly a decade as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Boston, I am acutely aware of the threat to public safety posed by illegal guns. And I am very familiar with the risks that our men and women in law enforcement take every day to protect innocent civilians from gun violence,” said Mitchell.

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino applauded Mitchell’s testimony, “I’m grateful to Mayor Mitchell for speaking today on behalf of our coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and encouraging the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security to act on legislation that will strengthen our state’s gun laws.”

Menino added, “Massachusetts must continue to lead the way on sensible reforms as we work together to make our neighborhoods safer.”

MAIG’s top federal legislative priorities includes: (1) fixing the broken background check system and requiring a criminal background check for every gun sale; (2) banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; and (3) creating a federal gun trafficking statute with real penalties for those who traffic illegal guns into our cities.”

Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) is a bipartisan coalition of nearly 1,000 mayors from big cities and small towns across the nation, co-chaired by Boston Mayor Tom Menino and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, dedicated to making America’s communities safer by cracking down on illegal guns. In Massachusetts, 30 mayors are members of MAIG.

MAIG has amassed more than 1.5 million grassroots supporters, making it the largest gun violence prevention advocacy organization in the country. The group believes that support for the Second Amendment goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous people.

AFSSGL Hold Community Forum in West Roxbury

Advocates for Safe and Sound Gun Laws (AFSSGL) held a Community Forum on Gun Violence at Temple Hillel B’nai Torah in West Roxbury on Sunday, May 19th.  Approximately 50 people came to hear presentations from Angus McQuiklen of the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence and States United to Prevent Gun Violence and Nancy Robinson from Citizens for Safety.

wroxbury8Rabbi Barbara Penzner of Temple Hillel B’nai Torah welcomed the group with by reading from a  statement on gun violence on the Homepage of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis. She emphasized the moral outrage that forms the foundation of all our work on gun violence. , She reminded us that silence is a form of complicity and urged us to speak out “that one not be joined with people of blood, ” quoting early Jewish Scholar Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra While passionate about the epidemic of gun violence, Rabbi Penzner also noted that she did not believe it was necessary to ban all guns. Rather, she urged us to work toward solutions that would curb the tragedies playing out every day without infringing on the rights of responsible gun owners.

Angus McQuilken

Angus McQuilken

Angus McQuilken emphasized that preventing gun violence is not incompatible with Second Amendment rights. “The government already draws lines,” McQuilken argued, noting that we are not allowed to have anti-ballistic cruise missiles, black hawk helicopters, or even fully automatic machine guns. Machine guns are heavily regulated, hard to get, and consequently don’t make headlines as instruments of tragedy outside the field of war. The 30,000 Americans who die from gunshot wounds every year are killed by handguns and semi-automatic weapons. McQuilken argued for federal laws to expand background checks to cover gun shows and private sales, which account for 40% of all gun sales, as well as a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

While Massachusetts has some of the strongest gun laws in the country, and correspondingly the lowest gun fatality rate second only to Hawaii, McQuilken sees room for improvement. Police chiefs in MA have the discretion to refuse handgun licenses to people they do not deem suitable, even if that person passes a background check. McQuilken would like to see this same discretion extended to FID cards for long guns. Noting that half of all gun deaths are suicides, McQuilken would like to see Massachusetts adopt a similar policy to Hawaii, where people applying for gun permits must sign a waiver for access to mental health records. While McQuilken agrees that the mentally ill are no more likely to commit violent crime than other people, he argues that they are more likely to commit suicide. However, he also reminded the audience that these were his personal views, and not the views of the organizations of which he is a part.

The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Violence has not taken a position on the issue of background checks and mental illness.

Nancy Robinson and Robert Lewis

Robert Lewis and Nancy Robinson

Nancy Robinson of Citizens for Safety spoke to the everyday tragedies of gun violence in inner cities that don’t make national headlines: “I’ve been to the open casket funeral of a two-year-old boy who was buried the way he died: in his mother’s arms. I could see the bullet hole in his little body.” While Robinson agrees that legislative change, particularly stronger background checks, would help prevent such heartbreaking violence, she argues that the people who face gun violence everyday can’t afford to wait for the law. She urges us to ask: “Where does the gun come from?” According to an article on shootingauthority,  it turns out that most guns used to commit violent crime are illegally trafficked. When Citizens for Safety discovered that many of these trafficked weapons are purchased by women coerced into buying and hiding weapons for men who are barred from purchasing guns, they began Operation LIPSTICK–a peer-to-peer education project among urban women. They are working together to stop the flow of illegal guns into urban neighborhoods.

wroxbury6Following the presentations and a lively discussion, community members signed postcards to their state legislators urging them to support the five principles of the MA Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.

West Roxbury Forum: Reducing Gun Violence- Where do we go from here?

While the United States Senate may have let down the American people by failing to pass legislation requiring background checks for all gun sales, the fight for sensible gun reform continues. The US House of Representatives has its own background check bill, and there are several bills being proposed here in Massachusetts. Join Advocates for Safe and Sound Gun Laws and Temple Hillel B’nai Torah at a community forum to discuss how we can have an impact on these discussions on Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 7:00 PM. The forum will feature speakers Nancy Robinson  of Citizens for Safety and Angus McQuilken of States United to Prevent Gun Violence. The forum will be held at Temple Hillel B’nai Torah at 120 Corey St West Roxbury. Click here for a map, and here to download a flyer.