Massachusetts Measure Would Ban All Semi-Auto Firearms

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posted on August 13, 2021
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Flickr courtesy Kyle Klein Photography

Massachusetts citizens who believe their state has ridiculously restrictive gun laws haven’t yet seen just how bad it can really get.

A new measure before the state legislature—H. 4038—would ban not only Massachusetts residents’ favorite old Browning semi-automatic .22-caliber small-game rifles, but also the semi-automatic shotguns they own for hunting, clay shooting, or self-defense.

Authored by state Rep. David Linsky (D), the legislation would rewrite Massachusetts’ already-strict ban on so-called “assault weapons.” In a nutshell, the bill strikes all references to “assault weapons” in the current law and inserts in that place “any rifle or shotgun containing a semi-automatic mechanism.”

For example, section 1 of the measure reads: “Subsection (b) of section 61 of chapter 90 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2018 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out the words ‘assault weapon,’ in line 13, and inserting in place thereof the following words: ‘any rifle or shotgun containing a semi-automatic mechanism.’”

Through the introduced legislation, which has been assigned to the Public Safety and Homeland Security committee, such language would be replaced in 17 different sections of the current law.

Additionally, H. 4038 would completely change and expand the state’s definition of “large-capacity weapons.” It adds the following language: “‘Large capacity weapon,’ any firearm, rifle or shotgun: (i) that is semi-automatic with a fixed large capacity feeding device; (ii) that is semi-automatic and capable of accepting, or readily modifiable to accept, any detachable large capacity feeding device; (iii) that employs a rotating cylinder capable of accepting more than ten rounds of ammunition in a rifle or firearm and more than five shotgun shells in the case of a shotgun or firearm; or (iv) any rifle or shotgun containing a semi-automatic mechanism.” (Emphasis added.)

Of course, subsection IV does away with any pretense of trying to ban so-called “high-capacity magazines,” since the proposed ban on “large-capacity weapons” would include even semi-automatic shotguns holding more than five shells. 

The proposal is yet another excellent example of the incremental nature of gun control. While the state’s “assault weapon” ban was supposed to be just the ticket for solving violent crime in Massachusetts, gun-ban advocates like the bill’s author, Rep. Linsky, are always planning ahead for a new ban on the next category of firearms. 

Incidentally, Linsky is no stranger to pushing anti-gun legislation in the Bay State. He has been fighting against the right to keep and bear arms in the legislature for more than two decades, and recently introduced another bill—H. 2487—that would require gun owners to purchase liability insurance in order to continue owning firearms. 

That legislation states: “Whoever possess, carries, or owns a firearm, rifle or shotgun without a liability policy or bond or deposit required by the provisions of this chapter which has not been provided and maintained in accordance therewith shall be punished by a fine of not less than five hundred nor more than five thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year in a house of correction, or both such fine and imprisonment.”

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