Legislature Acts on a Public Health Threat: Weapons

This week, both branches of the legislature adopted provisions in separate supplemental budgets that would ban devices attached to a firearm that are designed to increase the weapon’s rate of discharge. The legislative action quickly followed the October 1 shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead and nearly 500 injured. The shooter used “bump stocks” on his semi-automatic rifles that allowed them to fire at a rate similar to that of an automatic weapon or “machine gun.” The Senate language – offered by State Senator Cynthia Creem (D-Newton) and Senate Minority Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) – differs from the House language offered by State Rep. David Linsky (D-Natick) in that it is more specific as to what specific types of attachments would be banned, and offers some exceptions for use of the devices by firearms instructors and certified gun collectors. The two branches will now attempt to resolve issues between the two bills. Governor Baker has indicated he is receptive to the concept of restricting bump stocks. Hospital personnel on a daily basis see the terrible results of the nation’s gun violence and mass shootings, and many in the healthcare community view such violence as a true public health threat.