In light of recent mass-shooting horrors, I hope many of us can show up tomorrow IN ORANGE to let our legislators know that we want common sense gun laws, not more gun proliferation.
Also there are several calls to action below – a letter to sign, an ask to send a letter to the committee and some background information on the bills that are on the agenda.
This from the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence:
H.1284 and S.1326 – AN ACT RELATIVE TO WEAPON REGULATION and AN ACT CLARIFYING FIREARMS OVERSIGHT.
H.1296 – AN ACT RELATIVE TO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS.
Prevents towns, counties, and municipalities from regulating firearms locally.
Primary Sponsor: Rep. James Miceli (D-Wilmington).
Let’s all send Mike Moore an email testimony letting him know we oppose S1340. And remember to ‘cc’ the committee.
Committee emails to copy & paste:
Michael.Moore@masenate.gov, Michael.Brady@masenate.gov, Sonia.Chang-Diaz@masenate.gov, Mike.Rush@masenate.gov, William.Brownsberger@masenate.gov, Richard.Ross@masenate.gov, Harold.Naughton@mahouse.gov, Alan.Silvia@mahouse.gov, Thomas.Walsh@mahouse.gov, Bruce.Ayers@mahouse.gov, James.Dwyer@mahouse.gov, Rady.Mom@mahouse.gov, Paul.Tucker@mahouse.gov, Juana.Matias@mahouse.gov, Chynah.Tyler@mahouse.gov, Bud.Williams@mahouse.gov, David.Vieira@mahouse.gov, David.Muradian@mahouse.gov, Peter.Durant@mahouse.gov
Senator Michael Moore
24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02133
While we must be respectful of all law-abiding gun enthusiasts across Massachusetts, allowing gun suppressors in our state could adversely affect public safety. The purpose of a suppressor, or silencer, is to reduce the noise emitted from the weapon when fired and to minimize muzzle flash. This accessory certainly has some legitimate benefit for law enforcement and military operations but serves no real purpose for civilian use. As with any public safety policy decision, there has to be a careful balance when considering the private use of a suppressor to the potential risk to the general public.
The suggested advantage of suppressors comes in the form of improved hearing protection afforded users at a range or while hunting, and perhaps the solace it might offer residents who abut an outdoor firearms range. Suppressors may also assist in reducing the recoil upon firing the weapon and improve accuracy. Even with these slight advantages, adequate hearing protection will guard one’s hearing, and firing at gun ranges will continue to occur without suppressors regardless of a law change. Since Massachusetts allows only limited use of rifles for hunting, and shotguns cannot be equipped with suppressors, the hunting argument is irrelevant.
Moreover, the suggested advantages for the individual can become disadvantages for the overall public during violent incidents involving firearms, and hamper law enforcement’s ability to adequately respond.
While suppressors do not mask the sound emitted from a firearm as much as we frequently see in Hollywood movies, they may muffle it enough that someone nearby would be unaware of a shot fired. Some Massachusetts communities even use technology such as ShotSpotter to alert law enforcement of possible shots fired in order to respond quickly and deploy necessary assets.
Since suppressors also reduce muzzle flash, especially in low light conditions, and reduce recoil and muzzle position, they pose an additional threat to law enforcement during critical incidents involving shooters, as it hinders their ability to pinpoint the perpetrator’s location.
Pending legislation to allow suppressors takes into consideration law-abiding people who demonstrate responsibility with a firearm. However, legalizing gun suppressors could diminish public safety protection for citizens and law enforcement when critical incidents involving firearms occur.
While driving in a cruiser in Chelsea, an officer on routine patrol hears a quick emergency tone on the police radio, immediately followed by the dispatcher stating: “Chelsea Control to ALL Units . . . Chelsea Control to ALL Units: Respond to the area of 500 Main St. for the report of multiple shots fired. Be advised we also have received a Shotspotter activation of eight shots fired in the rear yard of 448 Main St. Use extreme caution.”
This imagined scenario raises some vital questions: How important is it for police to be alerted immediately when shots are fired within the community? What about those individuals in the area of the gunfire that should be taking immediate cover or quickly running from the scene to avoid getting struck with an intended or even stray bullet? The answers to these questions are obvious: incredibly important.
If gun suppressors were to become legal in this state, the public would be put at significant risk. Not only do police need to respond in a timely manner to investigate gunshots, but innocent bystanders in today’s world of increasing active shooter violence need the ability to take precautionary measures.
There are 12 major cities in Massachusetts that utilize a tool known as Shotspotter. This technology utilizes strategically placed audio sensors that triangulate the sound of gunfire to pinpoint the location of shots fired for responding police officers so that they engage a suspect at a hot scene. Based on my experience, there is no question firearms suppressors will adversely impact the ability of these audible sensors to identify the location of gunfire. Currently, shots are not detected in Shotspotter coverage zones for a variety of reasons. Suppressors would make the detection all but impossible.
On July 18, Arlington Police Chief Fred Ryan and I, representing the Massachusetts Major City Police Chiefs Association, testified before a legislative committee in opposition to bills that would legalize the use of suppressors. For those who argue that the existing ban should be lifted because of impacts gunfire can have on an individual’s hearing, the answer is simple: Always wear high-quality ear protection.
For the safety of police officers and the public at large, we should keep the existing ban in place.”
The four bills are the gun lobby’s latest attempt to put profits over public safety. Unfortunately, these bills are part of a national effort to deregulate silencers, or suppressors, and make them more accessible for use in criminal activity.
Today, I stand with municipal police chiefs across the Commonwealth who oppose these attempts to repeal the ban. If repealed, our officers will be at greater risk when they respond to active shooter calls because the use of silencers will make it more difficult to identify where a shooter is. Additionally, technology called “ShotSpotter,” which helps identify where gun shots are coming from and is used by my department and many others, will likely be compromised when it comes to picking up the sound of shots fired with a silencer.
Simply put, these deadly accessories to lethal firearms will make it easier for criminals to get away with murder undetected.
But it gets worse.
Federal silencer regulation, which requires fingerprints of the purchaser, thorough background checks, and a national registry of silencer owners, is also under attack. While the current regulations have kept silencers from being used frequently in crimes, there is federal legislation pending that would deregulate silencers by treating them like other firearm accessories and requiring a much more limited background check to purchase. The likelihood of the federal legislation passing makes stopping the Massachusetts bills a high priority for concerned citizens and law enforcement alike.
In hearings last month, the gun manufacturer lobbyist argued that these bills would protect the hearing of hunters and shooters. The notion that a silencer would do a better job protecting hearing than the high-tech ear protection now available is ridiculous.
This bill has nothing to do with hearing protection and everything to do with the uniquely unregulated gun industry, that is exempt from lawsuits, profiting from their dangerous products and helping criminals get away undetected.