Lawmakers in Massachusetts heard hours of testimony on dozens of gun-related bills on Tuesday as part of a hearing by the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, with pro-gun control activists and Second Amendment defenders both getting their chance to weigh in.
In looking at some of the coverage of the hearing, I was immediately struck by the tone taken by MassLive.com reporter John L. Micek, which wasted little time in straying from straight news reporting to a rather slanted piece. Micek began his dispatch from the state capitol by highlighting testimony of two Moms Demand Action members who shared the personal experiences that led to their anti-gun activism before pivoting to an odd complaint.
But it took roughly two minutes for their impassioned pleas to run into the same roadblock that’s been thrown in the way of every legislative effort to reduce gun violence — even in a state that has among the toughest gun laws in the country.
And that’s how to fight crime and stop the bad guys, while protecting the rights of gun owners who legally use their weapons for hunting, self-defense, or sport.
On the one hand, I appreciate Micek at least acknowledging that we do have the right to keep and bear arms, but I take issue with his assertion that every legislative attempt to reduce “gun violence” inevitably runs headlong into a Second Amendment roadblock. There are plenty of things that lawmakers can and should be doing to reduce violent crime that don’t touch on or implicate our right to keep and bear arms in any way, it’s just that in Massachusetts too many members of the Democratic majority sees gun ownership as a problem in and of itself.
Micek didn’t quote from any testimony provided by 2A activists in his report, but he did highlight a reality check provided to the gun control crowd from a couple of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.
“Your testimony is heartfelt and you should keep doing it,” state Rep. Steven G. Xiarhos, R-5th Barnstable, and a former Yarmouth cop who lost an officer under his command, told them. “But how do we stop these people when there’s no one there to stop them?”
State Sen. John Velis, D-Hampden/Hampshire, whose district was rocked by a shooting on the streets of Holyoke in October that injured a pregnant woman and fatally wounded her baby, who died after delivery, relayed a conversation he said he’d had with a retired judge.
In two decades of hearing every variety of gun case, Velis said he asked the retired jurist how many had involved a legal gun owner?
“His answer was ‘One,’” Velis told his colleagues.
It’s not legal gun owners who are driving violent crime in Massachusetts but they were definitely the focus of Tuesday’s hearing. Ironically, while lawmakers and anti-gun activists were demanding more restrictions on the rights of lawful citizens in the name of public safety, WWLP-TV in Springfield was providing its viewers with an update on the record-high number of homicides in the city this year; something the city’s mayor blames on repeat offenders, not responsible gun owners.
22News spoke with Mayor [Dominic] Sarno who says that a common trend in these homicides is that they are committed by violent repeat offenders.
“There’s been an urban scourge across America and again I’m going to continue to make a clarion call to our court systems and some of the judges that some of these individuals, these repeat violent criminal offenders, need to be off our streets and out of our neighborhoods,” said Sarno.
Sarno says he’s going to continue to urge the courts and judges and continue to file his bail reform legislation to keep violent repeat offenders off the streets in Springfield.
It’s not gun owners or even the Second Amendment that’s the roadblock to increased public safety in Massachusetts. It’s the myopic approach taken by lawmakers and the gun control lobby that focuses almost exclusively on legal gun ownership that’s to blame. Fighting crime by going after peaceful citizens is like trying to reduce alcohol abuse by going after people who mostly drink coffee or tea but occasionally enjoy a beer or a glass of wine.
If you have four hours to spare you can check out the entire hearing here. We’ll be talking more about the hearing itself as well as some of the bills up for discussion on Thursday’s Bearing Arms Cam & Co with Mike Harris of the Gun Owners Action League. While Micek didn’t bother to include any of GOAL’s testimony, executive director Jim Wallace spent more than half an hour giving testimony and answering questions from lawmakers, so we have a lot to discuss on tomorrow’s show.