After pulling a last minute bait-and-switch on Tuesday, the witching hour is at hand in Massachusetts, where House Democrats are scheduled to vote this afternoon on H4135, the latest iteration of the legislation billed as the “Lawful Citizens Imprisonment Act” by the Gun Owners Action League.
On the GOAL website, executive director Jim Wallace explained that “in order to avoid the normal bill process, the Speaker had House Ways & Means add the current gun bill language to an existing budget bill, H.4090. Then House Ways & Means, with no public vote record, conjured and released what amounts to a ‘ghost bill’, H.4135, in order to get it to the House floor for a vote on Wednesday, October 18, 2023.”
As if that wasn’t shady enough, amendments to H.4135 could be submitted until 5 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, which means there’s little time to comb over any changes to the original bill and try to track all of the amendments. In fact, by the close of business yesterday afternoon 49 separate amendments had been offered. From what I’ve been able to look at, some of the amendments would exempt off-duty law enforcement from a few of H.4135’s provisions, but none of the ones that I’ve taken a look at offer much, if any, relief to lawful gun owners.
GOAL didn’t suggest any amendments itself, declaring that the bill “simply cannot be fixed… or exorcised.” I think that’s right, but it can definitely get even worse through the amendment process. Amendment #24, for instance, would add a new and incredibly broad “gun-free zone” in Massachusetts law; public demonstrations, which are defined as defined as “a location with one or more persons demonstrating, picketing, speechmaking, marching, holding a vigil, or engaging in any other similar conduct that involves the communication or expression of views or grievances and that has the effect, intent, or propensity to attract a crowd or onlookers.”
That’s right. If even one lonely soul is standing on a street corner with a sign, it would be a criminal offense to walk by while lawfully carrying a firearm.
Another proposed amendment would mandate the state conduct “an investigation into the costs and impacts associated with the implementation of mandatory liability insurance for private citizens who possess, carry or own a firearm,” so any gun owners who thought that Massachusetts Democrats would kick back and relax once they passed H.4135 should be disabused of that notion. They’re already scheming about their next steps to make gun ownership an expensive and legally dangerous exercise.
There are several amendments by Republican lawmakers that would scuttle H.4135 completely, replacing the current language with verbiage increasing the criminal penalties for using “ghost guns” in crime or increasing the sentences for using a gun in the commission of a violent crime. While I appreciate the attempt to put the onus on criminals where it belongs, it would be a true political earthquake if a majority of the House went along with those particular amendments.
I do expect Democrats to approve those amendments exempting police from the vast majority of H.4135’s prohibitions, in the hopes of getting the Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association to drop its unanimous opposition to the gun control bill as it heads to the Senate. They’re willing to throwing the police chiefs a bone, but they’re still throwing lawful gun owners under the bus and steamrolling their Second Amendment rights in the process.
We’ll be talking with Jim Wallace of the Gun Owners Action League on Cam & Co tomorrow to take a look at where things stand once the vote is held, but Massachusetts gun owners should be melting down the statehouse switchboard today and demanding their representatives support their civil rights instead of engaging in massive resistance to the Bruen decision and the right of the people to keep and bear arms.