FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 2, 2024
CONTACT: Ben Kaplan, Communications Director Office of Senator Susan L. Moran Benjamin.Kaplan@masenate.gov
SENATE PASSES THE SAFER ACT: COMMON SENSE GUN REFORM FOR MASSACHUSETTS
Endorsed by gun violence prevention advocates, district attorneys, and police chiefs, bill is set to protect residents and modernize firearm laws, following extensive debate in the Senate
BOSTON (2/2/2024)—Yesterday evening, with bipartisan support, the Massachusetts Senate passed An Act to sensibly address firearm violence through effective reform—the SAFER Act—to increase firearm safety in the state. Following a thorough debate amongst members on the Senate floor, the bill passed on a vote of 37 to 3.
The omnibus legislation—S.2572—was introduced following extensive testimony at a November hearing of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, where the public provided over four hours of testimony on more than 50 gun safety bills before the committee. Led by Majority Leader Cynthia Stone Creem, the bill’s passage follows months of discussions which included stakeholders and advocates with diverse perspectives on the issue. The bill’s provisions would help make residents safer—and ultimately save lives—by building on the Commonwealth’s already strong record on gun safety and updating laws to prevent those who wish to do harm from being able to access and use deadly weapons. It would reform and modernize the state’s firearm laws, support the state’s public safety and public health infrastructure in mitigating gun violence, and strengthen accountability and oversight mechanisms for illegal gun activity.
“The foundation for this legislation was to provide law enforcement and mental health professionals with the resources to perform their duties to the fullest extent,” Senator Susan Moran (D-Plymouth). “This bipartisan achievement is the result of extensive public feedback and is a testament to the work put in by Majority Leader Creem and the Senate President to create a collaborative dialogue. Over the past several months, my team and I spent countless hours considering the full objectives and possible unintended consequences new firearm legislation would create if signed into law. My conversations with our local police chiefs emphasized addressing this crucial issue in a pragmatic and comprehensive way. ”
The legislation focuses on common sense policies to reduce gun crime and gun injuries in the Commonwealth, and updates the state’s laws to provide law enforcement agencies with the necessary support to tackle today’s concerns relating to gun violence prevention and keep Massachusetts at the forefront of gun safety.
The bill includes the following gun safety policies:
Ghost Guns. Updates the state’s laws to bring Massachusetts in line with national standards and to ensure accountability and oversight for those who own and possess unserialized and untraceable firearms.
Assault Weapons. Codifies Massachusetts’ existing prohibition on assault weapons and copies or duplicates of those weapons, to ensure that our residents are kept safe from weapons of war.
Glock Switches and Trigger Activators. Makes it illegal to possess devices that convert semi-automatic firearms into fully automatic machine guns.
Inspections of Gun Dealers. Ensures that gun dealers are inspected annually and allows the Massachusetts State Police to conduct those inspections if a local licensing agency does not or cannot do so.
Red Flag Law and Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO). Allows health care professionals to petition courts to remove firearms and licenses from patients who pose a risk to themselves or others. The bill also allows preemptive orders to prevent a dangerous individual from obtaining a license to carry a firearm.
Harassment Prevention Orders. Protects survivors of harassment by requiring courts to compel the surrender of firearms by individuals who are subject to harassment protection orders who pose an immediate threat.
Sensitive Places. Prohibits the carry of firearms in government administrative buildings, with exceptions for law enforcement officers and municipalities that choose to opt out.
Mental Health and Gun Licensing. Ensures that firearm licensing authorities have access to certain information about an applicant’s history of involuntary mental health hospitalizations due to posing a serious harm—with appropriate safeguards to guarantee privacy and due process.
Data Collection. Creates a more robust data reporting and analysis mechanism for guns used in crimes, suicides, and attempted suicides to ensure that the Commonwealth can better target training and enforcement efforts.
Gun Industry Accountability in Advertising. Prohibits the marketing of unlawful firearm sales to minors and allows industry actors to be held civilly liable if such marketing practices lead to an individual being harmed.
Firing at a Dwelling. Creates a criminal charge for intentionally firing a firearm at a dwelling or other building in use.
Community Violence Prevention. Creates a commission to analyze the allocation of state violence prevention funding and recommend changes to reduce gun violence in disproportionately impacted communities; develops a pilot program to promote gun safety awareness and firearms licensing education; and establishes a task force to make recommendations for maximizing federal funding for gun violence prevention in the most equitable way.
Emerging Firearm Technology. Establishes a commission to study emerging firearm technology, with a particular focus on products and features that could increase safety.
The Senate’s bill garnered support from the Attorney General of Massachusetts, gun violence prevention advocates, District Attorneys, and police chiefs.
During debate, the Senate adopted two amendments introduced by Senator Moran aimed at strengthening the license to carry process:
Data Sharing Commission: establishes a commission to gather relevant state agencies to develop and implement a statewide data sharing strategy so that licensing authorities can obtain easy access to information in the process of evaluating applications for licenses to carry.
Supporting Licensing Authorities: directs the Dept. Of Criminal Justice Information services to notify local licensing authorities of any expired license not more than 5 days after expiration.
“Local Police Departments must have the relevant information at their disposal to make informed decisions and preemptively address potential risks,” Senator Moran said. “Timely communication empowers local authorities to maintain up-to-date records, enhancing their ability to enforce licensing regulations effectively. Together, these amendments emphasize the importance of data accessibility in supporting efforts to be proactive in safeguarding our communities."
Having been passed by both the Senate and the House, the branches will now reconcile differences between the versions.