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Do You Agree With Patrick's Gun Control, Mental Health Proposals?

Gov. Deval Patrick unveiled legislation on Wednesday that would tighten gun control laws in Massachusetts while increasing funding for mental health services and enhance background checks. Is this sensible, or reactionary?

Are new proposed laws regarding guns in Massachusetts and mental health services sensible and pragmatic steps, or reactionary measures that won't increase safety? 

Gov. Deval Patrick introduced new legislation Wednesday along those lines in the wake of the .

"I am encouraged by the palpable consensus in our Legislature that the time for action is now. All of us must pull in the same direction to bring about real change in this state and across the country," Patrick said in a press release. 

The bill would require gun purchasers to undergo background checks at gun shows, reduce access to high-powered rounds of ammunition, and limit licensed individuals to purchasing a maximum of one gun per month.

Punishments for crimes involving guns would also sharpen, with tiered punishments for possessing different weapons on school property and giving police the authority to arrest without a warrant in order to quickly diffuse a dangerous situation on school property.

Four new crimes would be created—assault and battery by means of a firearm, assault by means of a firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm and commission of a violent misdemeanor while in possession of a weapon. Additionally, the bill increases the authorized minimum penalties for third and fourth offenses of illegal possession and carrying of firearms, shotguns, rifles, and machine guns and increases the maximum punishment for a second offense.

Mental health issues also became a hot topic after the school shooting and other mass shootings in the U.S. this year. Patrick's bill would enhance background checks by requiring courts to transmit all relevant mental health records to the state's criminal justice information system, which would result in this information being included in a national registry that all states access before issuing gun licenses.

The state Department of Mental Health would also get a 3.3 percent increase in the governor's fiscal 2014 budget proposal, with funding for team to travel to locations with individuals in crisis; training for middle and high school personnel in recognizing and addressing mental illness in students; and more funding for crisis intervention training for first responders, among other initiatives.

Gun ownership advocates have argued that stricter gun control laws haven't had an effect on reducing gun violence and instead places additional burdens on lawful owners. Jim Wallace, president of the Gun Owners Action League, the NRA affiliate in Massachusetts, told WBUR that current Massachusetts gun laws that passed in 1998 have been an "abject failure" and that they're "complicated and convoluted" for lawful gun owners to understand. 

"What we know here in Massachusetts is that in 1998 when the gun control act was passed, we had 1.5 million licensed gun owners in this state," Wallace told WBUR. "We are now down to about 230,000 to 250,000. And the sad part is while our numbers have been reduced by 85 percent, gun crime as increased by 200 percent."

Wallace added that the laws and state Legislature are "focusing way too much on the good guys and not nearly enough on the bad guys."

What do you think of the governor's proposal? Are these pragmatic reforms, or will they be ineffective in reducing gun violence? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Mike Johnson January 22, 2013 at 08:15 PM
What a joke, make this a racist issue. So, by CALVINS account, now Obama wants to take guns away from white people so only gang bangers have them. Just for a history lesson, 100% of KKK members were democrats, and thats a fact. 90% of gun homicides are conducted with illegal weapons. Why is there no talk of attacking this problem and enforcing our laws more stringently. Our liberal judges give light sentences to people with illegal guns, then wonder why the inner city has such a high murder rate. Go after the 90%, murder rates drop significantly, go after legal assault weapons (1.7% of all murders, and 90% of those with illegal weapons, so like .17%, thats right, less than 1/4 of 1%) and you do nothing. This is a scam to go after our rights a little at a time, and use tragedys as the backdrop. Obama has a lifetime history of less rights for the individual, more for the government. Thats also a fact. Wake up America!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Brian Zakrajsek January 23, 2013 at 11:05 PM
No, I do not agree with the proposed restrictions. I am a nine year Navy vet, my wife is in the National Guard, and we are law abiding citizens who want to be safe and protected. Increase the penalties for committing a crime with a gun. Increase mental health care and secure our schools, but leave our Constitutionally guaranteed rights to have firearms alone.
William Dawes January 24, 2013 at 01:34 AM
I hope that should any President order or any Congress legislate the confiscation of firearms, that the military remembers that their oath they took is to "protect the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign AND DOMESTIC". They did not swear an oath to the President, or to an administration, or to a political party, they swore an oath to the Constitution. Therefore, in the issuance of any Unconstitutional orders, they are oath-sworn to disobey such orders. An organization exists, called Oathkeepers, that encourages present and ex-military to remember their oath, and that it has no expiration date. If push comes to shove, I pray that the military is on the side of the citizens.
William Dawes January 24, 2013 at 12:26 PM
And I forgot to thank Brian Zakrajsek and his wife for their service to our country. Thank you.
Keith Champney January 28, 2013 at 03:50 PM
The NRA has its roots in the Union Army of the North. Both George Wood Wingate and Ambrose Burnside served as Union generals before founding the NRA. Ambrose Burnside lamented over the poor marksmanship of the Union Army when firing at Confederates soldiers. The KKK was founded by Confederate veterans. They couldn't have possibly been on more opposite sides,

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