State and Local Actions for Gun Safety

by Carla Cooper, Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard

The Democratic Council of Martha’s Vineyard (MV Dems) recently hosted a presentation by the Falmouth Gun Safety Coalition (FGSC) on the types of firearms that are currently legal to purchase and sell in the Commonwealth. The information they provided was alarming:

  • Semi-automatic handguns and rifles are legal to purchase in MA
  • Police departments routinely turn over their guns to state firearm vendors, who then resell them, putting them out in communities
  • There are presently no laws addressing home-made, unregulated, unserialized, and untraceable “ghost guns” in MA

We are amid a gun violence epidemic in this country. In 2020 alone, 45,222 Americans died from gun-related injuries. More than half (54%) of those deaths were by suicide. Firearms were the leading cause of death for children ages 1-19. 

Remove Military-Style Weapons

This is unacceptable. Massachusetts must become a leader in removing the most lethal guns from the streets — guns that were designed for military use in combat.

Several gun safety bills have been introduced in the current legislative session including:

  • H.3843 and S.1496 — An Act relative to ghost guns
  • H.2361 — An Act banning semi-automatic firearms
  • S.1529 — An Act to prevent illegal trafficking and gun violence among youth 

Each of us can ask our state representatives and senator to support these measures.

Destroy Retired Police Guns

It is likely that each of the Commonwealth’s 351 municipalities has armed their police with semi-automatic long guns (assault weapons), shotguns, and semi-automatic handguns. To date, Falmouth is the only known town with a bylaw to require the destruction of retired police firearms. You might ask what happens to your town’s police guns. Do they enter circulation when they are replaced? What can you do about it?

The FGSC is eager to help other interested communities make sure that their towns’ guns are not acquired by dangerous individuals. The attached Tool Kit was developed as a guide to help towns ensure that these retired weapons are destroyed.