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Gun Control and the Second Amendment

by Paul Saulnier
March 22, 2013

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.


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Comments (14)

I do generally think it's a mistake to personally direct comments. From my prospective such personalized comments can seem more about egos, then the discussion topic.

- Don MacLeod | 3/27/13 4:11 PM

Our courts have consistently found clear meaning in the 2nd amendment words "Shall not be infringed". If there is a problem with our Constitution we have a process for amending it. It's the WRONG approach to ignore or dismiss that process.

- Don MacLeod | 3/27/13 4:03 PM

A lot of men act tough because they have guns. In reality, without their guns, there's nothing tough about them. Men-children, really...

- Barry Fitzgibbons | 3/25/13 9:16 PM

I would like to know what the comment policy is on this website. Iron Mike has posted several comments which spread misinformation (okay, flat out untruths) and conspiracy theories. In addition, he has insulted Ms Heavner and capped it off by adding threatening language about "rapists and female real estate agents." I don't think this website should allow Iron Mike to spread his hate.

- Anne-Marie | 3/23/13 12:54 PM

Think about the mother in Georgia who could not prevent a pair of teens from shooting her baby in the face. I don't think the answer would have been for her to be carrying a gun. There has to be a sensible balance between responsible gun ownership and the daily tragedies that involve guns.

- mom | 3/23/13 10:33 AM

Just a point of fact: the Connecticut State Police issued a news release to set things straight on the matter of Adam Lanza's weaponry at Sandy Hook. Here's the relevant part: "The shooter used the Bushmaster .223 to murder 20 children and six adults inside the school; he used a handgun to take his own life inside the school. No other weapons were used in this crime. This case remains under investigation."

- Tom Driscoll | 3/23/13 10:32 AM

Most of the NRA's funding comes from the gun industry: manufacturers, dealers, etc. This is a billion-dollar weapons business, and the industry knows how to grow and protect this market. The NRA is actually run by gun industry leaders who make millions selling guns. The NRA shields the industry from protest and blame, money-launders and propagandizes for them, changes legislation, and organizes paranoid foot soldiers whom the NRA whips into a frightened, anti-government fervor. The result? The sale of lethal weapons to as many people as possible. I say take the discussions and protests directly to the merchants of death. http://www.businessinsider.com/gun-industry-funds-nra-2013-1

- Dianna Vosburg | 3/23/13 10:19 AM

Dear Iron Mike: Our "Forefathers" were thinking single shot muskets and local militia when the 2nd Amendment was written - is that what you're thinking ?? when you're unloading 100 rounds in 90 seconds, that's a weapon of mass destruction - what is the purpose of that weapon for a civilian or what are you hunting ??

- Mr. Lee | 3/23/13 12:49 AM

Ms. Heavner: >> "I was confronted last night by three men because of my views" Confronted? Or engaged in discussion? When I tried talking to you - you seemed afraid of me - because I am a man. I suspect you live with issues other than guns. But to answer your question, - yes, a gun is precisely a killing machine. That it's sole purpose - to kill for food, or to kill in self defense. I have seen what happens to defenseless people - they were slaughtered by the scores - men, women, and children. If you are afraid of guns - don't buy one. I WANT that chance to judge that a guy who breaks into my home IS a BAD GUY. And I don't want to have to risk precious seconds fumbling to dial 911 when I can have totally reliable self-protection at my bedside. BTW, you should do a little research into several serial rapists and serial killers who specialized in victimizing female real estate agents. You should be armed in your travels. Please consult with Chief Moore. AND, why shouldn't we be afraid of our government - when DHS has just bought 1.4 BILLION bullets - enough to shoot EACH American - 4 times? WHO is DHS planning to shoot Susan?

- Iron Mike | 3/22/13 11:44 PM

The issue of gun control certainly brings out passion on both sides. I had great hopes last night that the forum would bring about a meaningful discussion. Most of the attendees were clearly gun advocates and some, not all, were very disruptive. If I could have my way no one would have guns but I know that is a naïve wish. I know many people who own guns and I believe they are responsible with them. I don't agree with their interpretation of the 2nd amendment but I can agree to disagree. What I don't understand is why anyone can justify a gun that can shoot large amounts of ammunition before reloading. I was told that MA has a ban on assault rifles and high capacity clips however I believe it is legal in MA to have a gun that can shoot 10 rounds before reloading. Ten feels like a killing machine to me. What I heard last night was a lot of talk about being afraid of a tyrannical government. That is not something I fear. What I do fear however is a world with so many guns in the hands of people who feel they can judge who is the bad guy. I was confronted last night by three men because of my views. It didn't feel very good.

- Susan Heavner | 3/22/13 7:49 PM

So once again the forum was used by gun advocates, though I'm sure not all, to shut down any meaningful discussions. Their behavior amounts to bullying and is used to drown out the opinions of others that are different than theirs. They fight so hard for their 2nd amendment rights but don't seem to care about the right to free speech unless its the same as theirs. I'm disheartened that this opportunity devolved into an uncivilized shouting match but I am not the least bit surprised.

- Ken G. | 3/22/13 7:48 PM

Dear Mister Lee, I don't know where you got the idea that Lanza [a certified madman] did all his killing in just 90 seconds. My information differs considerably. We know he didn't shoot himself until the police arrived - 20 full minutes after the 911 call. We know he used pistols - which he reloaded several times. His mother's AR was found in his car. Stop worrying about guns getting into the hands of madmen. Worry that teachers, school administrators and school employees are UNARMED. In Israel, where madmen ALWAYS target Jewish children, - they've solved that problem. Teachers are trained, armed and READY. /s/ Iron Mike

- Iron Mike | 3/22/13 7:09 PM

Once again, another money making scheme sold under the guise of security. Who exactly would benefit from gun owner's insurance? Would a shooter be less concerned about liability because the insurance company will handle any claims? Would a shooting victim find solace or justice in money? Will criminals make sure to have current insurance? Something needs to be done about gun violence but insurance is not one of them.

- J Weise | 3/22/13 4:51 PM

If Adam Lanza had a single shot musket, would he have been able to slaughter the twenty six year old children in Newton, CT in ninety seconds ? In my opinion that's the real issue and it needs to be discussed in an intelligent manner and resolved.

- Mr. Lee | 3/22/13 4:17 PM



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