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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.

Gretchen Robinson January 20, 2013 at 02:08 AM
bet many here did not know this history of a responsible NRA throughout most of its history. http://www.alternet.org/suprising-unknown-history-nra?akid=9945.166498.xHHDeS&rd=1&src=newsletter779983&t=11
ohreally January 20, 2013 at 04:13 AM
Hi Gretchen. First, I'd be interested in your thoughts on my reply above relevant to the woman in Georgia. Second, in looking at your posts, you seem to have a theme of injecting religion (Christianity v Islam) and/or race, seemingly because "the legal discussion here is not the whole picture." The legal discussion and our civil rights transcends relious debate. So, arguing the Quaran over the Bible will not get you far, as many will point out the atrocities committed in the name of Islam, and discount your opinion out of hand. As to Race, the fact is, today the 2nd amendment has no color. Danny Glover has made it out to be racist, but looking at the times and the writings of the men who wrote it suggests otherwise. Lastly for some interesting modern perspective, I recommend you search for and visit Colion Noir's site/ you-tube videos.
Gretchen Robinson January 20, 2013 at 06:18 PM
The woman in GA did not need an assault weapon to do the job of protecting herself and her family. I bring religion into it because it's relavent. Evangelical Christianity tells men that they are weak and ungodly if they don't own guns. This conflating of guns and Christianity is being ramped up. It's part of the religous right's unholy bargain with Republicans -- or it is Republicans using the religious right? I am not a pacifist. I am an advocate for non-violence. I also advocate for critical thinking in any discussion here. I see postings and letters to the editor using the bogus argument for keeping gun laws as they are not, saying welll cars kill people, too and we don't outlaw cars. That is a dumb argument and should be laughed off a site like this. check out how little critical thinking is to be found here. By the way, Jesus taught nonviolence. Except for throwing the moneylenders and dealers out of the entrance of the temple, he was non-violent. http://www.amazon.com/God-Guns-Pacifist-Attackers-Christian/dp/1475016344/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358705409&sr=8-1&keywords=God+guns+and+religion
Fiscal Conservative January 20, 2013 at 07:43 PM
MCREMvonStauffenfritzpellmell: As I wrote, not everything is true. You or I could do a study on anything and derive the results we want. It is up to us, as individuals, to research and conclude as we wish. I made NO reference to the truth, just that it was a Conservative point of view. You seem to want to believe what you presented, that's fine by me. Just don't speculate that because I lean in an opposite direction as you, I'm always wrong. I'm sure that you, too, may have been wrong once in your life. My flaws, I admit. I'm cynical when it comes to Gov't and ANYTHING they wish to do. Usually at my expense (i'm a retired teacher, so I'm not one of the 1%ers). I struggle, day to day to keep up. Someday I would like to be able to stop working 2 PT jobs. At age 70+, I feel I've earned that. I don't think that I should have to give more of what I still have to earn, so someone who doesn't want to work(yeah, there are those). Any child, disabled person I have no problem helping. Its when the Elitist politicians tell me I have to do more for those that choose not to have a stake in our society I balk at. Tell me I'm wrong for feeling as I do!!!
Gretchen Robinson January 20, 2013 at 08:32 PM
here's governor Rick Perry TX on prayer saving children from gun violence. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/rick-perry-claims-prayer-not-gun-control-keep-children-safe_n_2490672.html

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