BOSTON—State Senator Jason Lewis joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate to pass, with bipartisan support, An Act to sensibly address firearm violence through effective reform—the SAFER Act—to increase firearm safety in the state and reduce gun violence without infringing on the constitutional rights of gun owners.
The SAFER Act was drafted after hearing extensive public testimony, and following months of discussions with stakeholders and advocates with diverse perspectives on the issue. The bill has been endorsed by gun violence prevention advocates, district attorneys, and police chiefs, including the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.
“Massachusetts is already a national leader in combating gun violence, but there is always more we can and must do to make our communities as safe as possible for all of our residents,” said State Senator Jason Lewis. “This legislation was carefully crafted to focus on policies that will further reduce gun violence, including suicides, while respecting the rights of lawful gun owners in the Commonwealth.”
The bill includes the following provisions:
- Ghost Guns. Updates the state’s laws to bring Massachusetts in line with national standards and to ensure accountability and oversight for those who possess unserialized and untraceable firearms.
- Assault Weapons. Codifies the state’s existing prohibition on assault weapons and copies or duplicates of those weapons.
- 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 the local police department 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 carrying 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 gun at a dwelling or other building in use.
- Do-Not-Sell List. Creates a voluntary do-not-sell firearm database to allow individuals who worry they may be a threat to themselves or others to voluntarily exclude themselves from having the ability to purchase firearms.
- 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.
With both the state Senate and House of Representatives having now passed gun bills, a Conference Committee will be appointed to reconcile the differences between the two bills.