Opinion

Opinion | Martin J. Walsh and William Evans

Concealed Carry Reciprocity is a step backward in the fight against gun violence

Police collected 16 guns in a gun buyback program this past May, including those shown here.
City of Brockton
Police collected 16 guns in a gun buyback program this past May, including those shown here.

This fall, Mothers for Justice and Equality held their annual conference. It’s a local anti-violence organization led by Boston women — many of whom have lost a child to gun violence. They told us their stories, and what preventable violence stole from them. We discussed strategies for keeping our neighborhoods safe.

We still have a lot of work to do in Boston, but we’ve come a long way. We’re grateful for the common-sense laws that help us do our jobs. We will fight any national policy that threatens to send us backward.

That includes a bill called the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which passed in the House last week. It would force each state to recognize the concealed-carry standards of every other state, even those with dramatically weaker standards for who can get their hands on a gun. Given that the gun lobby has blocked the creation of a national database, it would be extremely difficult for local police to determine whether those out-of-state permits were even legitimate. Law enforcement all over the country strongly opposes this legislation.

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Massachusetts is a national leader for safe, sensible gun policies. Not coincidentally, we have one of the lowest rates of gun-related deaths in the country. Anyone who receives a gun license in our state has to pass safety training and age requirements. Applicants who have been convicted of a felony or domestic violence, or who have been institutionalized for mental illness, do not get licenses. Boston also requires people to pass live-fire testing, and we prohibit people from carrying guns in certain areas, like school grounds. Furthermore, if a gun owner wants to carry a concealed weapon, they must make an additional showing of a need to police before they can be granted an unrestricted license. These laws have helped us prevent tragedies.

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If the US Senate passes Concealed Carry Reciprocity, people from other states who have criminal histories, who would never pass a background check in Massachusetts, would be able to carry a loaded, concealed gun into our neighborhoods. We know this is a bad idea. Our police officers, our neighbors, and the responsible gun owners of Boston agree.

To actively welcome more firearms into our public spaces would be an insult to the members of our community doing nonviolence work — like the women of Mothers for Justice and Equality. It would undermine the real progress we’ve made. Ours has been a sensible approach that treats the causes of violence and keeps deadly weapons out of the wrong hands.

We start with positive interactions on the streets and in classrooms. Boston Police Department officers are building trust with the neighborhoods they serve, and providing positive diversion for at-risk youth. We’re engaging with responsible gun owners to help us prevent gun theft, loss, and trafficking. We reached out to every legal gun owner in Boston, offering a cutting-edge online portal that makes our gun laws easy to understand, and we provide safety locks to anyone who wants one. Since 2014, Boston police officers have removed more than 3,200 firearms from our neighborhoods, through the seizure of crime guns, buybacks, and voluntary safekeeping. We also launched the Responsible Purchasing Initiative, which ensures that any vendor selling guns to the Boston Police Department uses best practices to prevent illegal gun sales and theft. We launched a massive, regional effort to fight gun trafficking. In 2014, we established the New England Regional Gun Summit, to work with neighboring cities and states on preventing the illegal flow of firearms. We’ve proved that cities and more rural states and towns can work together across whatever cultural differences may exist.

Concealed Carry Reciprocity would fly in the face of the progress we’ve made. We’re working with our strong congressional delegation in Washington to aggressively oppose this bill, along with other extreme proposals being pushed by the gun lobby. We’re supporting common-sense solutions like universal comprehensive background checks, which the vast majority of Americans support.

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For us, this is a no-brainer. Making it easier for people to sneak guns into our neighborhoods is ludicrous. It’s reckless. It’s wrong. We know it, our police officers know it, the survivors of violence know it, and the responsible gun owners of Boston know it. We will always stand for safety in our communities. We will do our job.

Martin J. Walsh is the mayor of Boston. William Evans is the commissioner of the Boston Police Department.