State representatives plan to vote this month on a sweeping package of updates to Massachusetts’ gun laws, after putting the bill on ice over the summer amid criticism.
The 123-page bill, teed up for a public hearing on Tuesday, would crack down on untraceable weapons known as “ghost guns” and ban the carrying of firearms in schools, polling places and government buildings.
“Probably the main impetus for wanting to do another bill was the ghost gun problem that we're beginning to see percolate in Massachusetts,” said Speaker Ron Mariano, who unveiled the new legislation Thursday with other top House Democrats. “We wanted to put an end to that, and we are confident that the reforms in this bill will do that and make Massachusetts a much safer place.”
The bill would also update the state’s assault weapon ban, make it illegal to carry a firearm while intoxicated or to shoot a gun at a home, and require a study of how the state funds violence prevention services.
Filed Wednesday night by Stoneham Democrat Rep. Michael Day, the new bill represents a reworked version of legislation House leaders first touted in June.
Originally, the bill sought to ban the carrying of guns on any private property without the property owner's consent. The updated version specifically prohibits bringing a gun into someone's home without their permission, but leaves it up to businesses to decide their own policies. Day said that change "provides some more clarity, and we think, entrenches it even more firmly on constitutional grounds."
That original version, while cheered by gun violence prevention advocates, met sharp pushback from gun owners. It also drew procedural concerns when it appeared the public would not have the opportunity to weigh in a hearing, and when the House and Senate could not agree on what committee should review it.
Day, the House chair of the Judiciary Committee, said the revised bill incorporates feedback heard from activists, gun owners, law enforcement and other state representatives.
As the House moves Day’s new bill along in the process, senators are also working to craft their own gun legislation. It’s not clear when a Senate bill might emerge for a vote.
The two branches will need to agree on a final version before they can send one to Gov. Maura Healey. That will likely be a matter of several months — Mariano said he hopes to have a gun reform law done by the July 31 end of legislative sessions.