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Five days, 26 US mass shootings. Here’s a proposal to slow the bloodshed.

Banning ghost guns, expanding the ‘red flag’ law, and regulating gun dealers are key parts of a sweeping new Massachusetts bill.

A child's bike left at the scene near the corner on 56th Street in the Kingsessing neighborhood, where a shooting took place, in Philadelphia, on July 4, 2023.RACHEL WISNIEWSKI/NYT

Last week saw yet another long and bloody holiday week in America where mass shootings too often grabbed the headlines from fireworks celebrations, where a Baltimore block party turned deadly and a quiet Philadelphia neighborhood mourned its losses and looked for answers.

Between July 1 and 5, the Gun Violence Archive tallied 26 mass shootings nationwide, each involving at least four victims either killed or wounded. All told, 24 lives were taken and more than 140 people were injured.

Massachusetts, for all its strict gun laws, isn’t immune to gun violence. Look no further than an early morning shooting in Mattapan that injured five and a shooting in Brockton that killed one person and injured two others, both on Wednesday.


So good isn’t always good enough — not when lives are at stake. And no state can afford to be complacent — not as long as criminals can turn to such innovative options as untraceable ghost guns. And no state can afford to sit back and wait for its own tough gun laws to be eroded by a Supreme Court bent on imposing its 18th-century view of the Second Amendment on streets bloodied by gun violence that is all too modern.

Massachusetts has a real opportunity this year to make an in-road on ridding the streets of ghost guns, updating a concealed carry law weakened by a 2022 Supreme Court decision, and expanding the state’s “red flag” law to help get guns out of the hands of people at risk of harming themselves or others.

The vehicle is a 141-page omnibus gun reform bill filed late last month by House Judiciary Chairman Michael Day, who spent the past year putting together the effort that, as he put it, would help “ensure the health and safety of our residents” from “a rogue Supreme Court” and “increasingly sophisticated criminal activity.”


It zeroes in on controlling the flow of ghost guns by requiring receivers and barrels — the two parts essential to constructing the weapons — to be registered and have serial numbers. And those that don’t? Well, the bill would criminalize building and selling the untraceable guns.

Boston police have reported a 280 percent increase in the number of ghost guns recovered on the streets between 2019 and 2021, according to Day’s office. Last winter State Police raided homes in Burlington, where they found a completed Glock-style ghost gun and various parts for others, and Woburn, where they found a 3-D printer and multiple 3-D-printed, Glock-style pistol frames and other parts.

Philadelphia police report that the man accused of shooting to death five people Monday had in his possession an AR-style rifle and a 9mm handgun, both privately made ghost guns.

Day’s bill also aims to close loopholes that allow the modification of legal firearms into illegal automatic weapons and expands the current prohibitions on assault-style weapons to include a veritable laundry list of deadly firearms.

Another critical element of the bill is its update to the state’s concealed carry law after the Supreme Court struck down a similar law in New York last year, a 6-3 decision upholding the right to carry a weapon in public. The new gun bill builds on several tweaks already made to state law last year. This time it explicitly prohibits licensed gun owners from carrying firearms in schools, colleges, universities, government buildings, and polling places or on private property, such as residential or commercial spaces, where the building owner has not given consent.


It also attempts to bring some uniformity and consistency to gun licensing standards as enforced at the local level and requires live firearm training for anyone seeking a license to carry. And it broadens the state’s “red flag” law, expanding the list of those who can ask a judge for an Extreme Risk Protection Order that takes away the license to own or carry a gun of an individual who might pose a risk of harm to themselves or others. Day’s bill would add medical professionals, school administrators, and employers to the list, which is now largely limited to family, household members, domestic partners, or local police.

The bill would transfer oversight and inspections of gun dealers from local police to the State Police, ending the hodgepodge of regulatory oversight that has simply failed to get the job done — short of a federal raid. Globe reporting last year found that about half of local police departments didn’t know (or in some cases apparently didn’t care to know) that it was their responsibility to enforce the state’s gun laws at the dealer level. Local oversight on guns is a good idea — if it actually exists. Massachusetts needs a better way.


This sweeping piece of legislation is just beginning its journey through the lawmaking process — and surely this is not an issue with which the Senate should play political games. If we have learned anything from the past week’s violence, there is no better moment to get our own house in order. We cannot look to a dysfunctional Congress to solve the problem of gun violence that cries out for a broader solution. And we certainly can’t count on a Supreme Court that walks in lockstep with the gun lobby to protect Massachusetts citizens.

Making Massachusetts safer is the best we can hope for. This legislation helps get us there.

Editorials represent the views of the Boston Globe Editorial Board. Follow us @GlobeOpinion.