BOSTON — Pointing to a shooting in Holyoke last week that left a pregnant mother critically injured and killed her baby, House Democrats have resurrected their campaign to overhaul the state’s firearms laws, rolling out a redrafted bill that continues to draw pointed criticism. Plans call for a vote on the bill by the end of the month.
“Make no mistake, we are in the midst of a national public health crisis due to gun violence, and it is relentlessly continuing to claim lives here in Massachusetts and across the country,” Judiciary Committee Co-chair Rep. Michael Day, who wrote the latest bill, said at a press conference last Thursday on Beacon Hill.
Like an earlier version that triggered procedural infighting between the branches, the updated legislation (HD 4607) seeks to rein in the spread of untraceable “ghost guns,” update the state’s assault weapons ban, limit the presence of firearms in certain public spaces and streamline the licensing process.
House Speaker Ron Mariano said the latest bill is “significantly different” than one he unsuccessfully tried to advance over the summer, when gun owners groups mounted vociferous opposition and some representatives appeared to balk.
“I think the chairman and his committee responded to the criticisms they’ve heard, tempered some of their perceptions, and I think we’ve arrived at a place which makes the commonwealth safer,” Mariano said.
But the changes appear not to have won over some of the legislation’s strongest critics.
“All they did was take a toxic bill and make it a little less toxic. That’s all,” said Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners’ Action League.
Although Senate Democrats have also signaled they want to enact some kind of gun reform legislation this term, Mariano and his team are poised to circumvent the traditional joint