Monday, February 3, 2014

Assistant House Minority Leader George Peterson’s Statement on Release of Gun Violence Task Force Report

Assistant House Minority Leader George N. Peterson, Jr. (R-Grafton) issued the following statement today in response to the release of the report of the Gun Violence Task Force:

“After a brief review of the report issued this afternoon, I thank Speaker DeLeo and the Gun Violence Task Force for their diligent work in providing this in-depth analysis and action plan in a timely manner. The work performed by this group is vitally important as the topic of firearm safety progresses at the state level.

The findings released today make targeted recommendations surrounding firearm safety training, school safety, and the reduction of the number of types of firearm licenses available in the Commonwealth. Addressing these issues in the coming months will benefit the state’s residents and lawful firearm-owners alike.

While the report released today highlights Massachusetts’ better than average record of suicide, homicide, and firearm-related incidents, the findings fail to show that since the Commonwealth adopted strict firearm laws in 1998, the aforementioned firearm-related events have in fact doubled in that time. This omission begs the question of the necessity for the restrictive laws passed more than fifteen years ago.

Furthermore, the report has asked for the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, in conjunction with the Massachusetts Gun Control Advisory Board, to make recommendations relative to the suitability of an individual to be licensed to own a firearm. To me, this approach leaves too much discretion to the state’s Police Chiefs and Advisory Board. It is my belief that a better way to handle factors relative to firearm ownership should be the explicit definition of those persons who would be prohibited from owning a firearm. Further to that point, if Chiefs and the Gun Control Advisory Board are to have discretionary power over the issuance of licenses, they should also have the burden of proof, upon appeal, to demonstrate why that individual is not suitable to possess a firearm.

As is the case with any legislation, the devil will be in the details. However, I look forward to joining my colleagues on the other side of the aisle in producing legislation that protects the Commonwealth’s residents, while respecting the Second Amendment rights of our state’s citizens.”