Governor Deval Patrick on Wednesday signed into law an overhaul of Massachusetts state gun laws, adding the state to a national database for background checks and allowing police chiefs to go to court to keep rifles and shotguns out of the hands of people they deem dangerous.
The measure was one of the most hotly debated of the recently concluded state legislative session, as lawmakers went back and forth over how much power to give law enforcement officials in denying access to such weapons.
Existing law gave police that discretion to deny a handgun permit.
“Our communities and our families are safer when irresponsible gun sales and use are reduced,” Patrick said in a statement. “This legislation moves us in that direction.”
The new law also requires schools to develop plans for addressing students’ mental health needs.
Even before the new law, Massachusetts had strict firearm licensing requirements, along with measures prohibiting anybody convicted of a violent crime or drug trafficking from owning or carrying a gun.
Omission: The caption accompanying a print version of this article failed to include House Speaker Robert DeLeo in a list of people standing behind Governor Deval Patrick.