Gun Control and the Second Amendment
by Paul Saulnier 3/22/13
Want to fill an auditorium? Ask people to comment on a proposal to change how Massachusetts deals with the second amendment to the Constitution.
March 21, 2013. Beth Greely, chair of the Holliston Democratic Committee, called the meeting to order and thanked everyone for coming to this important discussion of Representative David Linsky's bill, HD 2678, to put restrictions on gun ownership in Massachusetts.
As with the Milford casino issue, residents from surrounding towns came to help Holliston residents understand the issues. Several members of a Westford coalition, above, were here. They defeated a proposal to ban guns entirely in the town of Westford (www.Westfordpro.2A.org)
By 7:20 PM, the auditorium at Adams Middle School was full. Moderator Barbara Gardner announced that Fire Chief Cassidy wanted everyone standing in the back to sit down in order to keep the aisles clear.
This gentleman announced that since there was no American flag in the auditorium he would hold the one he brought with him and then asked everyone to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
The panel included, l to r, Police Chief John Moore, Jerry Belair, Youth & Family Services Director Margaret Fitzpatrick, moderator Barbara Gardener, GOAL (Gun Owners Action League) spokesman Jim Wallace, and Representative David Linsky, sponsor of HD 2678. Gardner asked for a sense of the meeting participants and it appeared that 50% were from Holliston and the rest from surrounding towns.
Chief Moore spoke first about how security has increased since the tragedies and Columbine and Sandy Hook. Jerry Belair explained that he is in favor of gun ownership but is in favor of Linsky's bill. His remarks were interrupted by those in the audience opposed to the bill. Belair responded several times while Gardner asked that the speakers be allowed to continue uninterrupted.
Belair's criticism of the federal law is that gun dealers are not required to perform background checks of people they sell guns to. They represent 40% of gun sales in the USA. He wants background checks for everyone who purchases a firearm. Belair pointed out another issue that concerns him.
Fitzpatrick spoke to the need for increased funding for mental health and to support programs for children at risk.
Wallace spoke against tougher gun control laws, citing current Mass laws which he says show an increase in gun violence rather than a decrease. He said FBI statistics show that we have a higher rate per 100,000 residents than New York and New Jersey. He criticized the state for taking four to eight months to renew gun permits when the law requires them to complete their review and make a decision within 40 days.
Representative Linsky spoke to his 33-section bill which includes provisions for restricting large capacity weapons, increased penalties for making false applications and other violations of current gun laws, requiring liability insurance for gun owners, 25% sale tax and defines and creates three new crimes which include the use of a firearm.
Linsky was interrupted many times by members of the audience, opponents of his proposed legislation, in spite of Gardner's request to allow panelists to speak.
The meeting was then opened to questions from the floor and people lined up on both sides of the auditorium.
The vast majority of questions (and statements) came from opponents of the bill. "Iron Mike" (RabidRepublicanBlog.com), above, was one of several who displayed signs in opposition to the bill.
Susan Heavner was one of the few Holliston residents who spoke.
Although panelists agreed to disagree, there was general agreement that more has to be done to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental health issues and to enforce current penalties on people who violate current gun laws.