Massachusetts Gun Violence Prevention Coalition outlines agenda
By Sam Drysdale
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MARCH 9, 2023…..This could be a session when major gun violence prevention legislation gets passed, advocate Ruth Zakarin says.
“Everyone I talk to here in the State House is really committed to continuing to address the trauma of gun violence to bring the numbers of deaths and injuries from gun violence down to zero. So I’m very optimistic,” Zakarin, executive director of the MA Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, said before advocacy day activities at the State House on Thursday.
There have been 53 incidents of gun violence in Massachusetts so far in 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tracks gun violence in the U.S. From those 53 incidents, 49 people were injured and 22 people were killed. The most incidents happened in Boston, with 17 occurrences of gun violence so far this year, followed by Springfield with nine incidents and Worcester with five.
“Some of the main themes that we’d like to see included in a comprehensive gun safety bill include more analysis of the data collected in the aftermath of a violent gun event, better regulation of ghost guns, more protections for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and firearm industry accountability measures,” Zakarin said.
The advocates hope the Legislature will pass an omnibus bill this session that will incorporate these new regulations.
Also, on their list of priorities is creating a method for individuals to waive their right to purchase a firearm to prevent self-harm. About 56 percent of gun deaths in Massachusetts are by suicide, the coalition says.
Gov. Maura Healey last week added her voice to the calls to ban ghost guns (untraceable guns that are built using parts of legal kits sold by firearm manufacturers and dealers, or from 3D printer templates available online).
Healey said that these guns without serial numbers “have emerged over the last few years as a really serious issue in states across this country.” The coalition says there has been an 80 percent increase in reported ghost guns in the last three years.
“We need to ban ghost guns,” the governor said on GBH Radio. She added, “We need to do everything we can to get rid of them. And there’s legislation filed — which I support, I supported as attorney general, I will continue to support as governor and I’ll make sure that my secretary of public safety and security is doing everything that he can and the team can to work on this issue.”
At least two sets of legislation have so far been filed this session to address the issue. (HD 352/SD 1469 and HD 2143/SD 2031).
The coalition is also not alone in calling for better protections for victims of domestic violence. Secretary of State Bill Galvin has long advocated for the issue, and his office runs a program to help relocate survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking to safe and unknown addresses.
Galvin said at a budget hearing this week that he plans to propose an amendment to the budget for a program to provide grants to agencies providing resources to domestic violence survivors.
Massachusetts has recently experienced a spate of high-profile domestic violence incidents including the alleged murder of Cohasset’s Ana Walshe by her husband and an apparent murder-suicide in which an Andover woman and her son were killed by her husband — one of the 53 gun violence incidents that have happened in the state this year.
About 30 percent of female victims of domestic violence are killed with a gun in Massachusetts, according to the gun violence coalition.
The advocates are also calling for updating language included in Chapter 258E to suspend an individual’s firearm license if a harassment protection order has been granted against them.
The coalition also plans to push for an increased investment in the Department of Public Health’s Neighborhood and Gun Violence Prevention program, Zakarin said. The program targets out-of-school youth and young adults up to age 24 to prevent gun violence and other violent crime in neighborhoods that have high crime rates.
The coalition is advocating for a $13 million investment into the program, a roughly 29 percent increase up from the current appropriation of $10 million. Healey recommended $10 million for the program in her fiscal year 2024 budget recommendation.
“We know that these programs are working, we need to continue to provide these resources,” Zakarin said.
March 10, 2023 at 9:57 am
Guns are inanimate objects and can not be ‘violent’ … people with darkened spirits are violent. God Himself manifested into a human being 2,023 years ago to change dark human spirits and even that profound event has not seemed to help …. so don’t expect the latest ‘legislation’ to fix anything.
March 11, 2023 at 8:28 pm
Many thanks to courageous Massachusetts state legislators, Governor Maura Healey, & Secretary of State Bill Galvin for their life-saving work to reduce tragic gun deaths/injuries within the commonwealth.
March 11, 2023 at 10:22 pm
Chat GPT, you are canceled!
March 18, 2023 at 11:51 am
Life saving work, LOL! Coming from a state, hell bent on keeping abortion numbers amongst some of the highest in the world. You must be kidding here, right? Yankee Fool…
March 12, 2023 at 11:11 am
Enforce the laws we have, stop the “catch and release” b******* these corrupt judges and DAs engage in with ACTUAL violent criminals. Home-made firearms are already addressed in current law, with in 7 days of manufacture they must be registered with the state. That is already the law.
Guess what d********, criminals aren’t going to follow any law, that’s why they’re criminals.