Gun Control


Comprehensive bill to address gun violence that would require gun license applicants to disclose their mental health histories, prohibit assault weapons from being stored in homes, ban high-capacity ammunition magazines, and require gun owners to purchase liability insurance.

Joins nearly 40 other bills on gun control and ownership including one filed by the Governor.

That bill would: 

  • Tighten access to high-powered rounds of ammunition
  • Create four new types of firearms-related crimes and mandate buyers to undergo background checks before purchasing weapons at gun shows
  • Require private gun sales to occur at the business of a licensed dealer so that the sale can be tracked electronically;
  • Prevent the furnishing of a machine gun to any person under the age of 21
  • Establish tiered punishments for possessing different weapons on school property and give police the authority to arrest without a warrant in order to quickly diffuse a dangerous situation on school property
  • Create the crime of assault and battery by means of a firearm, assault by means of a firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm and commission of a violent misdemeanor while in possession of a weapon
  • Increase the authorized minimum penalties for third and fourth offenses of illegal possession and carrying of firearms, shotguns, rifles and machine guns, and increases the maximum punishment for a second offense.

Lead Sponsor


Representative David Linsky

Background (From the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence)

Massachusetts ranked 3rd out of 50 – having enacted some of the strongest gun violence prevention laws in the nation.Among other things, Massachusetts:

  • Requires any person who sells, rents or leases a firearm to obtain a state dealer license (unlicensed sellers may transfer no more than 4 firearms per year);
  • Bans most assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines, but not 50 caliber rifles;
  • Requires all firearm purchasers to obtain a license, and report any lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement;
  • Prohibits the sale of “unsafe handguns” not on the roster of approved handguns; and
  • Maintains permanent records of firearm sales.

However, Massachusetts does not:

  • Require the reporting of mentally ill individuals to the federal database used for firearm purchaser background checks;
  • Limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time;
  • Impose a waiting period on firearm purchases, although the purchaser must hold a valid license; or
  • Require unlicensed firearm sellers to conduct a background check on the purchaser, although they must ensure that the purchaser holds a license.

Local governments in Massachusetts retain authority to regulate firearms and ammunition, and the local licensing authority in Massachusetts has discretion in determining whether to issue a license to carry a firearm.

In 2009, Massachusetts had the lowest number of gun deaths per capita among the states. 207 people died from firearm-related injuries in Massachusetts in that year. According to data published by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the national crime gun export rate is almost four times the crime gun export rate in Massachusetts. The portion of crime guns that enter Massachusetts from other states is more than twice the national average. Massachusetts imports 2.9 times as many crime guns as it exports.

Current Status

Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security is holding hearings around the state:

In the meantime, Speaker Robert DeLeo has commissioned a task force led by Northeastern Associate Dean Jack McDevitt to recommend gun control policy.

The eight-person panel will include former Massachusetts and Louisiana Inspector General Robert Cerasoli; Revere Superintendent of Schools Paul Dakin; Harvard Professor of Health Policy David Hemenway; John Herman, associate chief of the psychiatry department at Massachusetts General Hospital; Natick Police Chief James Hicks, president of the MassachusettsChiefs of Police Association; Boston College associate professor Marylou Sudders, who chairs the health and mental health program at BC’s Graduate School of Social Work; and Raffi Yessayan, an attorney and former chief of the gang unit in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

The task force does not include anyone from the gun lobby or the gun-manufacturing industry, an area covered, DeLeo said, by Cerasoli, whom he called a “gun enthusiast and sportsman.”


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