Mass. police chiefs organization, local departments blast Beacon Hill gun reform bill

BOSTON — The Mass. Chiefs of Police Association and local police departments are raising concerns about a massive gun reform bill introduced to the state legislature earlier this summer.

The MCOPA, along with the Plymouth and Ware police departments, have separately criticized Democrat Rep. Michael Day’s Act Modernizing Firearm Laws, a 140-page proposal that promises to “stem the flow of illegal firearms into the Commonwealth and increase protections from gun violence for our communities.”

The bill rewrites licensing procedures, revamps regulations for training and selling firearms, and expands the law regarding Extreme Risk Protection Orders, also known as “red flag laws.” It also cracks down on so-called “ghost guns,” or untraceable firearms. The legislation would require a gun’s receiver and barrel be registered and serialized and make it a crime to build and sell untraceable guns.

“We’re not trying to go after or criminalize proper license [holders], people who can responsibly carry a firearm,” Day said on July 10. “This is really intending to get at those that are evading our code of laws through the advancement of technology and criminal behavior.”

But a July 7 MCOPA memo came down hard on the scope of the bill, raising questions about legal overreach and the ability to enforce it.

“Many Massachusetts police officers are not always familiar with the complexities of the current Massachusetts firearms laws. To introduce a tremendous number of new firearms laws will become a training and enforcement nightmare for law enforcement agencies…It is strongly recommended that the MCOPA not support HD 4420 as written,” retired Ashland Police Chief Vincent Alfano wrote in the report.

MCOPA President and Salisbury Police Chief Tom Fowler said MCOPA members met multiple times with Rep. Day to discuss the organization’s concerns.

“We’re optimistic we can work with the committee and come up with some changes,” Fowler said. “[We’re hoping] to keep the lines of communication open with Chairman Day. I know things have been put on hold until the fall so we hope to continue to have input.”

Ware Police Chief Shawn Crevier said the bill punishes law abiding citizens by restricting where license holders can carry concealed weapons.

“I was shocked by some of the aspects of the bill that they want to enforce,” Crevier said. “Rather than addressing the issue of these criminals being free on the streets and lenient sentencing in the court system, this bill does nothing to address that.”

Plymouth Police Chief Dana Flynn also blasted the bill in a July 15 Facebook post, urging residents to contact their local representatives.

“This bill seems more designed to invade the privacy and vandalize and confiscate the property of law-abiding citizens than it does protecting them,” Flynn wrote.

Speaker Ron Mariano put the bill on hold until the fall, telling House colleagues in a July 24 email they will “spend the ensuing weeks working with you to address concerns and questions you and your constituents may have about the proposed legislation.”

A spokesperson for Rep. Day said he continues to talk to his colleagues, “as they express their support and seek clarification on the bill.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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