By Bob Katzen
The Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee are holding a hearing on 68 bills on August 28 at 1 p.m. in Room A-2 at the Statehouse in Boston. Here are some of the bills on the agenda:
ALLOW AGES 15-17 TO PARTICIPATE IN YOUTH HUNTS (S 1413) – Allows youths ages 15 to 17 under the immediate supervision of a person holding a valid Firearm Identification (FID) or License to carry (LTC) to take part in the youth hunts that are organized by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Current law requires youths ages 15-17 to have a basic hunter education certificate.
“Understanding wildlife and ethical hunting practices should be taught at a young age and this change would help to instill those values,” said Sen. Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), the bill’s sponsor.
MORE DATA ON GUNS USED IN CRIMES (S 1388) – Expands the information in a 2014 law to be collected on guns used in crimes. Also requires the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to issue a biennial report analyzing crime gun data.
“The simple message behind this legislation is that good data leads to good policy,” said Sen. Cynthia Creem (D-Newton). “With the passage of this bill we will improve and expand the data collected on crime guns in Massachusetts and provide critical information to public safety officials and policy makers on ways to reduce gun violence.”
“To address crime guns and straw trafficking, we need a better understanding of how these guns are reaching our streets- so we can stop the supply chain,” says the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence on its website. The coalition helped pass a 2014 law that required that every gun recovered in crime be traced, and that the data be put in a database.
“We now have five years of this critical data, and we need to know what it says,” the website concludes.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR DAMAGE CAUSED BY LOST OR STOLEN FIREARMS (H 2044) – Makes a firearm owner civilly liable for damage caused by lost or stolen firearms if he or she has not reported the loss or theft of the weapon within 24 hours of the owner’s knowledge of the theft or loss.
Supporters say this will encourage gun owners to be accountable and report when their gun is lost or stolen.
NO LOCKED STORAGE REQUIRED IF NO MINOR ON PREMISES (H 2051) – Exempts gun owners in houses without minors from the current law requiring that all guns be secured in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device that renders the weapon inoperable by any person other than the owner.
Supporters say the lock requirement was designed to prevent minors from accessing the gun. They argue that if there are no minors in the home, the requirement is not necessary.
NO GUN CONFISCATION DURING EMERGENCIES (S 1404) – Prohibits the confiscation of lawfully owned firearms during a state of emergency. The measure imposes a fine of up to $5,000 per item seized or a prison term of up to 2.5 years. Exemptions allow the seizure of firearms from persons who are under arrest, are the subject of an abuse protection order or have had their firearm license revoked.
“It is important that the rights of law-abiding citizens be protected, even in times of emergency,” said Sen. Dean Tran (R-Fitchburg).
The bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton) did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call to comment on his bill.