Massachusetts Senate passes ‘red flag’ gun seizure bill


Legislation to allow the temporary seizure of firearms from those thought to be at risk to themselves or others moved forward Thursday in the Commonwealth.

The measure, H.4539, passed the state Senate on a voice vote despite calls from some that it was both cruel and dangerous. Broad in scope, it would allow current and former romantic partners, family, roommates, and police to seek an extreme risk protection order, suspending someone’s gun rights and firearm license for up to a year. Supporters held the measure will prevent both murders and suicides while giving law enforcement new tools to prevent mass shootings.

Massachusetts state Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem said the bill was a “commonsense measure that will save lives” in a post on social media that included her standing among a crowd of anti-gun advocates and ended with the hashtag #guncontrolnow.

The bill, an amended version of a measure passed last month by the House in a 139-14 vote, has been repeatedly slammed by Second Amendment groups as it allows for ex parte proceedings where the accused does not have to be present to lose their gun rights and that law enforcement is not required to return seized firearms after the order expires.

In addition, the proposal would require those who wish to possess a stun gun or taser first acquire a firearms license.

The Gun Owners’ Action League argue that should Gov. Charlie Baker wind up with the bill as written, he should veto it until it offers more protection for gun owners and the promise of health care for those targeted.

The legislation was supported by a number of gun control groups who painted it as a “critical tool” to help police take guns from those who are in a crisis.

Lawmakers must now hammer out the differences between the two bills before a final proposal could be sent to Baker, who has said he was open to considering such a measure.

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