The bill by Speaker Robert A. DeLeo to restrict gun rights in the Commonwealth is not only a wrongheaded policy that will make the state less safe. It is also provides sad closure to the time when Massachusetts was a laboratory of democracy and a place where liberty was cherished.
There is time in American history as critical as the fall-winter of 1774-1775, and it is fitting that the land that later came to be known as Somerville would be the setting.
The date Sept. 1 is very important. First, it is the birthday of my godmother Aunt Rita, who grew up at 24 Powderhouse Terrace with my mother and their four other siblings. Second, it is the day in 1939 the Germans and their Russian allies launched their east-west invasion of Poland. Third, it is the day in 1774 that British troops marched from their Boston garrison to seize the munitions stored at Nathan Tufts’ powderhouse.
Yes, that powderhouse. The Powderhouse.
When the British arrived no shots were fired and after loading up the materiel, the Redcoats were on their way.
Yet, eight months later, when the British marched through Somerville towards the weapons cache in Concord, things had decidedly changed. Not only did the colonists stand up and fight on Lexington Green, but at Concord’s Old North Bridge, they turned back the British soldiers to return to Boston empty-handed.
It was in that period between the British quick-and-easy foray to the Powderhouse in September and disastrous march to Concord in April that Massachusetts colonists made the transition from subjects of a faraway king to citizens of a local democracy.
Of course, no one is surprised that liberals like Charles E. “Charlie” Baker Jr., support the DeLeo bill. Nor would anyone be surprised if King George William Frederick “George III” Hanover joined Baker and other liberals to celebrate Massachusetts moving one step closer to finally completing the mission launched by the British Army.
The DeLeo bill represents the latest gambit in the campaign to restrict American gun rights by using treating gun ownership as a public health issue. Physicians are directed in the bill to collect information from their patients about their guns and then discourage their patients from keeping or bearing arms.
The bill also makes it easier to strip gun rights from citizens seeking help for mental health, including for drug abuse and alcoholism. Mental health seems to be the magic reason for denying gun rights beyond question. Here’s a question: If someone is concerned for their safety, would they go for treatment it if meant they would lose they ability to defend themselves?
As for background checks, the bill also makes it easier for private health information to make it to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. A system designed to keep felons from buying guns is now a national database for mentally-ill or other undesirables to be flagged.
The background check concept is absurd to begin with because it is based on the idea that a gang banger or terrorist will fill out his paperwork and submit to the background check in the first place.
Another step backwards is the provision that forces Massachusetts residents to plead for permission to keep and bear arms, and to receive the state’s firearms identification card. The applicant must declare good reason to fear injury to his person or property or an interest in target practice or sport shooting.
Like King George III before him, DeLeo wants to take away the guns. This bill is a step in that direction.
The speaker claims that he is working to make the state safer. But, guns in the hands of regular citizens are what make communities safer—especially in those Massachusetts neighborhoods abandoned by police to criminal elements.
In 1775, brave men from Somerville stood up to the Redcoats. My fear is that today, the men of Somerville are thinking like its 1774.