Second Amendment Group Sounds Alarm Over ‘Gun Control’ Amendment in Massachusetts Legislature

Printed from:

UPDATE — 5:15 p.m. House session ends without any mention or passage of the final supplemental budget, and instead held a vote on a climate change measure. Per State House News Service:


BOSTON — The state’s top pro-Second Amendment organization is sounding the alarm over a supplemental budget package Beacon Hill lawmakers are on the verge of forwarding to the governor’s desk, one which contains an amendment they say would pave the way for an unconstitutional firearms crackdown.

The state missed Tuesday’s statutory financial report deadline, and State House News Service has reported that the failure of legislators to pass a supplemental appropriations bill required to close out spending in fiscal year 2017 (which ended this past June 30) is to blame.  

According to State House News Service, the $130 million closeout budget bill is held up behind closed doors partly due to disagreements over a firearms amendment offered by state Representative David Linsky (D-Natick).

The Gun Owners’ Action League of Massachusetts has urged its members and other gun owners to flood the State House with telephone calls voicing opposition to Linsky’s amendment, which they claim goes beyond a simple ban on bump-fire stocks, the add-on item a gunman apparently used to maximize casualties in last month’s Las Vegas massacre.

The organization is concerned that Linsky’s amendment is too broad and would wind up criminalizing the mere maintenance of firearms, such as the lubrication of guns. GOAL Executive Director Jim Wallace has warned in a recent email blast to GOAL members that the language in the amendment is “so broad and open to interpretation and abuse that it will cause a legal quagmire for licensed gun owners in Massachusetts.”

Linsky’s amendment states the following: 

Whoever possesses, owns or offers for sale any device which attaches to a rifle, shotgun or firearm, except a magazine, that is designed to increase the rate of discharge of the rifle, shotgun or firearm or whoever modifies any rifle, shotgun or firearm with the intent to increase its rate of discharge, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison by not less than 3 nor more than 20 years.

The Senate’s version of the supplemental budget includes an amendment outlawing bump-fire stocks and trigger cranks. GOAL has thus far been more receptive to the Senate’s version, as the language is more specific, and according to the group, less open to interpretation.

House Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sanchez (D-Boston) recently suggested that he is committed to fighting in favor of keeping Linsky’s amendment over the Senate’s. In a statement Sanchez released Tuesday, the lawmaker said he “appreciates the progress made with the Senate” but stressed that “the House has been clear on what our priorities are and these priorities require immediate action.”

Clues that Sanchez is prepared to dig in his heels over Linsky’s amendment were evident Tuesday evening, according to a scan of Sanchez’s social media activity. The powerful lawmaker took to Twitter to post a letter he and other top legislators received from the pro-gun-control group known as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

In the letter, Massachusetts chapter leader Kim Long urges lawmakers to support the Linsky amendment, claiming that “rather than naming specific devices or technical features,” which the Senate’s version does, the House version takes a more far-reaching approach.    

“As such, this law would regulate any current or future rapid-fire devices and most effectively close this loophole,” Long wrote. “Without a comprehensive solution, new accessories will be devised, achieving the goal of mimicking the firing rates and lethality of machine guns without violating the law.

“The House version is stronger than that proposed by the Senate, S.2194, which, while laudably addressing two specific rapid-fire devices — bump stocks and trigger cranks — would not completely close the conversion accessory loophole.”

Sanchez, unprompted, tweeted out a copy of the letter along with a note directed at the organization:

Sanchez’s tweet and other recent developments were enough to prompt GOAL on Wednesday to issue an advisory of its own:

There is thus far no indication or timetable as to when a final version of the budget and gun-related amendments will be sent to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk.