New York and Connecticut have already enacted new gun laws in the wake of December’s Newtown school shooting. The Massachusetts legislature is expected to take up a bill before the end of the 2013 legislative session.
The point person for gun issues in the Massachusetts House says he hopes to recommend a comprehensive bill by September. Democratic State Representative Harold Naughton of Clinton , who co-chairs the Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security said the goal is to update the state’s already strict gun ownership laws.
Sixty-five gun- related bills have been filed in the legislature this session. The Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security is finalizing a scheduled for five public hearings to be held around the state. As a prelude to the formal hearings, Naughton is holding a series of informal listening sessions across the state.
He met in Chicopee on Friday with local officials including Mayor Michael Bissonette of Chicopee, Mayor Domenic Sarno of Springfield , some area legislators, city councilors and law enforcement officials.
Naughton insists momentum on the gun issue on Beacon Hill has not waned since it was brought to the forefront by the Sandy Hook School shootings.
The legislature is also waiting for from recommendations from a task force appointed by House Speaker Robert DeLeo. The task force, chaired by Northeastern University Associate Dean Jack McDevitt is looking at the mental health aspects of gun violence.
Massachusetts already has what are considered to be among the strictest gun laws in the country, including limits on the capacity of bullet magazines and restrictions on modifications to long barrel guns. Local police chiefs control the issuance of handgun carry permits.
Springfield police seized more than 200 illegally possessed firearms last year. Springfield Deputy Police Chief William Cochrane said much of the trafficking in illegal guns can be traced to lax laws in other states.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said support for community outreach programs is needed so that people will give police information that leads to the arrest of gun runners.
Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette said legislation needs to address the issue of gun use in cases of domestic violence.
Rep. Naughton said no matter what Massachusetts, or other states do, action is needed at the federal level. He said it was frustrating that Congress failed to approve universal background checks for gun purchases.