What’s in Massachusetts’ New Gun-Ban Measure

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posted on July 15, 2023
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Flickr courtesy Kyle Klein Photography

Massachusetts firearm owners are up against a wall, facing one of the most-extreme gun-ban measures introduced to date.

In fact, HD 4420 is so egregious that the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) has described the bill like this: “HD 4420 is a collection of all the worst gun policies in America, and in the post-Bruen era, a bill that will likely not hold up in court. This bill rewrites Massachusetts gun laws to implement the harshest gun control in the country and severely infringes upon the rights of Massachusetts’ citizens.”

The recently introduced legislation would force all kinds of punitive restrictions on gun owners in the state—so many it would take several stories to describe all of the negative, and clearly unconstitutional, provisions. Let’s take a brief look at four of them.

  1. Expands definition of already banned “assault weapons”

Per the measure, the state’s definition of an “assault weapon” would now include firearms with only a single cosmetic feature that gun-ban advocates don’t like. For rifles, this includes a pistol grip; a folding, telescopic or thumbhole stock; a threaded barrel; a forward grip; or a barrel shroud. This would immediately outlaw many firearms currently legally owned by Massachusetts residents.

  1. Bans firearms in far more places

The measure would ban possession of firearms in many new locations. Those places include all municipal, state, and county buildings; all polling places; and any private property, unless the owner has provided express consent or has posted signage allowing firearms on their property. This means that a “No Guns” sign is no longer needed, rather people must give you direct permission or post a “Guns Allowed” sign if their property is freedom friendly. Per the measure: “A law enforcement officer may arrest without a warrant and detain a person found in violation of this section.” 

  1. Requires registration of lawfully owned firearms and magazines

According to the measure, “All firearms and feeding devices purchased, acquired, manufactured, or assembled in the commonwealth shall, at the time of purchase, acquisition, manufacture or assembly be registered … .” It also mandates that owners notify the state if a firearm is modified even in the simplest manner, such as adding optics, replacing a trigger, or adding grip panels. As for the bill’s definition of “feeding devices,” they include “any magazine, belt, strip, drum or similar device that holds ammunition for a firearm, whether fixed or detachable from a firearm.”

  1. Gives the state authority over firearms training
    While NRA is widely recognized as the nation’s authority on firearms training, the measure gives the colonel of the state police—who might not have any expertise regarding firearms training—authority to promulgate rules and regulations governing the issuance and form of basic firearms safety certificates required by the legislation, including minimum requirements for course curriculum and the contents of any written examination. “Said colonel shall certify certain persons as firearms safety instructors, certify safety course curriculum and annually update and post on its website a list of approved instructors,” the measure states.

According to an analysis by ILA, the measure also bans all legal. federally tax-stamped automatic firearms, mandates so-called “safe-storage” laws, mandates new training requirements, bans anyone under 21 from acquiring or carrying any semi-automatic rifle or shotgun, bans anyone under 15 years of age from taking part in shooting sports and training, and places new mandates, protocols, and training requirements on retailers.

To find out more of the punitive restrictions included in HD 4420, read through the bill. One word of warning, though: It is 140 pages long, full of legalese, and not an enjoyable read.           

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