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Mass. should pass ‘extreme risk’ gun law

The US has been pummeled by gun violence since the assault weapons ban expired in 2004. We can #MakeitStop.
The US has been pummeled by gun violence since the assault weapons ban expired in 2004. We can #MakeitStop.

Thoughts and prayers never stopped a bullet.

Moments of silence never kept a high-capacity weapon out of the hands of someone intent on committing mass murder.

If our grief following the latest mass shooting, at a South Florida high school, is painfully familiar, so is the congressional and federal inaction following another senseless massacre. After so much bloodshed and sorrow, protecting citizens from gun violence is now the province of state officials.

After the Las Vegas shooting last October that killed 58 people, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to ban so-called bump stocks, a device that makes semiautomatic rifles mimic the firing action of fully automatic weapons. The ban went into effect earlier this month.


Now Massachusetts must continue to enact common-sense gun measures by passing the extreme risk protective order that would allow a judge to order the temporary removal of guns from someone ruled a danger to themselves or others.

State Representative David Linsky of Natick, who filed the extreme risk bill last year, said it’s designed to help prevent what happened this week when a 19-year-old man allegedly killed 17 people and wounded more than 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Reports say he had long displayed signs of disturbing behavior.

“The situation in Florida absolutely calls for this type of law,” Linsky said. “Everybody knew this kid had problems and was making threats about shooting up the school.”

Under the extreme risk bill, a family member, police officer, or a health care provider can go to court and file an affidavit, similar to a restraining order. That would go before a judge, who would decide whether there’s enough evidence to prove a person is a threat to themselves or others. The judge would then issue an order for police to seize any firearms for up to 10 days. After that period, the respondent would get a full evidentiary hearing. The order could then be lifted or extended for up to a year.


Linsky is waiting for the House or Senate leadership to take the bill “out of committee and put the bill on the floor” for a vote. It’s already a law in California, Connecticut, Indiana, and Oregon. Massachusetts needs to become the latest state to protect communities by taking guns out of the hands of those deemed to dangerous to have them.