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BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
Tue January 15, 2013
David Linsky Bill Aims To Tighten Already Strict Gun Laws
Though Massachusetts has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, some are calling for tougher gun laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting one month ago. Massachusetts State Representative and former assistant district attorney David Linsky will file a bill this week aimed at strengthening state gun laws. Emily Rooney spoke with him about his proposal on Boston Public Radio:
What are the specifics of your proposal?
Massachusetts has relatively strong gun control laws as compared to other states, but there are a number of loopholes. Large capacity weapons are readily available in Massachusetts. We have an assault weapons ban, but it doesn't cover weapons that people would ordinarily think are assault weapons. They're called large capacity firearms under our law. And, I will be filing legislation to require that those large capacity weapons if they're privately owned to be safely stored at the gun club or target range if they're to be used.
But, most people want guns in their houses to protect themselves...
Well, actually that's wrong. These large capacity aren't very well-used for self defense. These are the weapons... that cant be concealed, obviously, because they're so big and bulky. You have to be really set up to shoot and fire them. The only legitimate use for them is for target shooting and you certainly cant target shoot at your house, so let's bring them to the place where you can do target shooting, which is the range.
Are you expecting pushback?
I'm expecting pushback on everything I'm going to file, quite frankly. But, I know the American people agree with me and that's much more important than a small minority of gun owners who push back on anything.
What else will your bill aim to change?
We'll also be tightening up the licensing standards. In Massachusetts, police chiefs have very limited amount of discretion in issuing a license to carry a firearm... We need to give them a little more discretion in denying a person's application. Particularly, they should be able to consider a person's mental health history, a person's physical ability to handle the gun, their mental acuity, and their experience in training. And, I intend to give the licensing authority more discretion on whether to issue or deny a permit.
That's a slippery slope. Once you start questioning mental ability, don't you have to start questioning physical ability?
I think that the very basic test should be the same that way we have a test to see whether or not you can drive a car is whether or not you could handle a fire arm. For example, right now in the gun safety course you're not actually require to handle a firearm or shoot a firearm before you get your license. I think you should be able to do that. We know a firearm is a very dangerous thing to have, much like an automobile, if not more dangerous, and you should be able to show that you could physically handle it.
You're also proposing gun insurance. How would that work?
Before you could register a car in Massachusetts, you have to show proof of insurance. I'm proposing that we have the same requirement for guns.
If you're injured as a result of somebody's negligence in storing the gun, or the way they're handling their gun you should have some legal recourse in that. But, more importantly this would get the insurance companies involved in ensuring that the way that people store their guns is safe, the type of guns people choose to have in their homes, that that's safe. The marketplace played a role in giving us safer cars, and safer pieces of equipment around the house. They can do the same thing through the marketplace in giving us safer guns.
What about illegal guns?
People are injured everyday by legal weapons. They are weapons that are stored in peoples' houses... Can we solve all our problems, all of our gun violence by laws? Of course not, but we need to take every reasonable step we possibly can to cut down on the tragedies that happen ev ery single day. And, we need to make sure that only people who can safely have access to a weapon.
What do you think should happen on a national level?
I am hopeful that the first thing we're going to do nationally is close this gun show check loophole. We have a federal law that says you're supposed to do a check on the sale of every gun, but it doesn't apply to gun shows and it doesn't apply to private sales. That's about 40% of the gun sales in the United States. We need to start banning on a federal level what are called assault weapons, but we need to look at weapo ns that are large capacity weapons and large capacity magazines and whether they should be available for sale nationally.
Listen to the full interview here: