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Local News

May 23, 2014

State gun laws may get tougher

Dems pushing for further restrictions on firearms

BOSTON — Already known for adopting some of the country’s toughest gun control laws, Massachusetts lawmakers may soon debate whether to restrict firearms access even further.

Democrats in the Legislature are preparing to unveil a sweeping gun safety bill next week that’s expected to put new limits on gun licensing, restrict private sales, expand background checks for gun buyers and strengthen reporting rules for gun owners with mental health issues, said a spokesman for House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

DeLeo sees an opportunity to maintain the state’s reputation as a bastion for gun control, said DeLeo’s Chief of Staff Seth Gitell. The speaker plans to unveil legislation on Tuesday at a press conference at the State House, he said, so it can be taken up before the end of session July 31.

The reforms will arrive a year and a half after the mass shooting of 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., reignited the gun debate in the United States. While that prompted other states, including New York and Connecticut, to strengthen gun control, momentum for federal restrictions has stalled in Congress.

DeLeo’s bill would follow many of the recommendations of a legislative task force headed by Jack McDevitt, associate dean for research for the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Northeastern University.

More than 60 gun control bills were filed in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, but it’s not clear which will be included in the final legislation.

In February, McDevitt’s special committee came out with a raft of suggestions aimed at reducing gun violence, improving firearm safety and standardizing licensing.

It urged new standards on who is considered “suitable” to purchase a gun, especially if the individual has a history of mental illness. It wants to ban all convicted felons from possessing firearms and require extensive background checks for all private gun sales.

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