Massachusetts has some of the toughest regulations in the nation on the purchasing of guns and, fittingly, the nation’s second-lowest death rate from gun violence, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate would surely be even lower if the Commonwealth could defend itself against states with much weaker gun-purchasing laws.
Only a third of the weapons recovered in crimes in Massachusetts last year were originally purchased here, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. That percentage has remained virtually unchanged since 2006. New Hampshire and Maine are the top outside sources for firearms. In some years, Vermont features prominently as well. Recently, the Burlington Free Press detailed how a handgun stolen in 2003 out of the car of an investigator with that state’s medical practice board ended up being used in the 2007 murder of 20-year-old Jerome Wells, a former quarterback at Madison Park High School.
According to ATF data analyzed by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Massachusetts is a net importer of guns that turn up in crimes — a strong testament to the effectiveness of the Commonwealth’s gun-purchasing regulations in keeping weapons from potential criminals. But many surrounding states, including New Hampshire, are exporters of guns.
The nation remains deeply divided on whether to limit the availability of weapons, but the least it can do is adopt uniform, stringent gun purchasing laws. States that believe in gun control should not have to bury their citizens because of the laxity of states that don’t.