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Massachusetts lawmakers hear testimony on 56 bills in push for gun reform

Mass. lawmakers hear testimony on dozens of gun reform bills
Mass. lawmakers hear testimony on dozens of gun reform bills 02:47

BOSTON - Massachusetts lawmakers listened to testimony on 56 bills related to firearms Tuesday as the Senate President has vowed to have a gun reform package on Governor Maura Healey's desk by the end of the session.

The bills ranged from a ban on firearm silencers to more relaxed gun laws, even one bill which would ban carrying a firearm while riding an ATV. The bills also included more language to crack down on so-called ghost guns, untraceable firearms that are made at home.

Ellen Leigh, a survivor of gun violence, who narrowly escaped being shot in a subway station in 1994, testified before the Legislature's Joint Committee on Public Safety on behalf of Moms Demand Action.

"There were four men, and they had a gun and they attacked me, and they threatened to shoot me and I just remember shutting my eyes and I didn't want to see it," Leigh said, "There are psychic wounds and there are people who never get counted in the statistics, like myself."

The last time state lawmakers passed gun reform was 2014 and even second amendment advocates, like Jim Wallace, executive director of Gun Owners Action League, agree that some reform is necessary.

"Gun related homicides have more than doubled in Massachusetts since these laws have been in place," Wallace said.

The urgency for a reform package comes amid recent violence, such as the mass shooting which took the lives of 18 people in Lewiston, Maine. It also comes after a Supreme Court decision which struck down a New York state law monitoring where guns are permitted.

Massachusetts' House of Representatives has already passed a gun reform bill. It includes a crackdown on ghost guns and the requirement for some key gun components to be serialized. It also prevents people from carrying guns into someone else's home without their permission and bans the purchase of new AR-style firearms.

The Senate is expected to pass its own gun bill in 2024.

"Today's testimony is important to the legislative process, and the Senate President continues to look forward to legislation reaching the governor's desk by the end of the session," a spokesperson for Senate President Karen Spilka said in a statement on Tuesday.

Wallace believes that any gun reform should start from scratch, focusing more on criminals, than legal gun owners.

"The gun laws are an absolute failure. They do nothing to help the inner cities. All they do is keep us on our tippy toes like we may be a felon in waiting. The criminals could care less about this stuff," he testified. 

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