By Bob Katzen
House 139-14, approved and sent to the Senate a bill that would allow family or household members to petition the courts to issue an extreme risk protection order (ERPO) that would suspend a person’s license to carry a firearm and order him or her to surrender his or her firearms and ammunition if he or she is believed to be a danger to themselves or others.
“I’m proud of the members of the House for passing this bill which will save lives,” said House Speaker Bob DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “In Massachusetts, we have the most effective gun laws in the nation. Now, we have a new way to keep people safe and prevent senseless tragedies. I thank … my colleagues in the House and the students who raised their voices for their work on this crucial, life-saving measure.”
“This new ERPO law will give families a life-saving tool that will help save loved ones who own guns and are in crisis and at risk of killing themselves or others with a firearm,” said John Rosenthal, the co-founder and chair of the group Stop Handgun Violence. “Thanks to the courageous leadership of House Speaker Robert DeLeo, this common-sense legislation will save lives and continue to make Massachusetts the national leader in gun violence prevention.”
“We need to address mental health issues and effective preventive measures,” said Rep. Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman) who opposed the measure. “Unfortunately, this bill did not address these issues and threatens the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens. Worse yet, it gives more power to the courts rather than keeping it in the hands of local law enforcement.”
“This vague, overly broad bill relies on speculation to strip people of civil rights and completely fails to address the problems of people with mental health issues,” said Rep. Shauna O’Connell (R-Taunton). “We need to protect the public whether someone has a firearm or truck or a pressure cooker. This legislation gives more authority to the courts at a time when judges are failing to follow the law. It is time to enforce the laws we presently have on the books.”