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Agree With Patrick's Proposed Gun Restrictions and Boost to Mental Health Services?

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.

Ron February 20, 2013 at 10:01 PM
The problem is that our Governor doesn't have a good record of being able to track anyone. I doubt he really cares to figure it out either. His Agency lost track of 48,000 families on the EBT program to the toon of millions of wasted tax payer money. What makes you feel that he can put a program in place to track law abiding gun owners, let alone criminals. How many law abiding gun owners are causing problems? What new law will now make the criminals think twice of killing someone? The ones in place don't seem to stop them. The death penalty??? Who would go for that?
coldwaterdiver March 22, 2013 at 02:09 PM
Liberals turn tragedies into political opportunities.
Joan Smith April 10, 2013 at 03:10 PM
NO to Gov. Patrick! NO to the UN! NO to the President! Their proposels are PREPOSTEROUS!
fatty arbuckle April 10, 2013 at 03:31 PM
More laws and rules directed and forced upon law abiding citizens yet the vermin continue to get guns whenever they want to and do not abide by laws! they think they can stop illegal guns by targeting LAW ABIDING CITIZENS ! yet drugs are illegal and they pour across our borders every day, so do guns and illegals pouring across our wide open borders! yet nothing is done about this!
Wind Dummy 25 April 10, 2013 at 09:14 PM
Fatty that's the beauty of having an issue. If you don't have one make one . Look at the latest nut, the guy with the knife the other day on a campus in Texas. Unlike recent high-profile attacks where guns were used, Tuesday's incident likely won't lead to national debates on knife safety or tighter regulations on their sales, said James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston. "Knives just don't create that same sense of fear," he said. In 2011, according to the FBI, 1,694 people died as a result of knife wounds. 323 people died as a result of being shot by rifles of any kind. Classmates described the unidentified assailant in Texas as being possibly mentally unstable? Possibly?? He had a teddy bear with him>>>Anybody notice this before? has anyone checked in with this guys folks? Before he is allowed to merge in with non teddy bear carrying students? Anyone see a pattern? These people are bent on killing and maiming random people. Why? Because they are mentally unstable. One person who was on the scene said if he had a hand gun he wouldn't have hurt anyone when he began the slashing attacks. He spotted him right off as a nut. I guess it's easier or lazier, whatever the reason to ban rifles. Puzzled... Me to, I feel it's just an underhanded opportunity to disarm the average law abiding U>S> citizen. Now that would be nuts.

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