By Scott Malone
BOSTON Jan 16 Massachusetts Governor Deval
Patrick introduced a new series of gun laws on Wednesday that
would tighten rules on sales of weapons and ammunition, in the
wake of last month's deadly school shooting in neighboring
Patrick made the announcement a day after New York state
adopted one of the toughest gun-control laws in the United
States and shortly before President Barack Obama proposed a new
national assault-weapons ban and strengthened background checks
on prospective gun buyers.
"In the wake of too many tragedies, I have filed legislation
to tackle the problem of gun violence and illegal firearm
possession," Patrick, a Democrat, said in a statement.
He also proposed an increase in funding to the state's
mental health programs aimed at reducing violence, in the wake
of last month's mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that left
28 people dead including 20 first graders.
The proposed Massachusetts legislation would require gun
buyers to undergo background checks even when they made
purchases at gun shows, limit buyers to purchasing one gun per
month and reduce access to high-powered ammunition.
It would also require state courts to share relevant mental
health records with state and criminal databases used to conduct
background checks on potential gun buyers.
Patrick did not propose changing Massachusetts'
assault-weapons ban, in place since 1998, which prohibits clips
that carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition. New York
strengthened its ban on assault weapons and cut clip size to
The Newtown killings prompted some Americans, including
officials in California, Maryland and Delaware, to call for
tighter restrictions on weapons, a move that the National Rifle
Association and its supporters have strongly opposed.
But some state officials - including Governor Dannel Malloy
of Connecticut - said they are limited in their ability to
tackle the problem of gun violence on their own.
"States can't go it alone. We need leadership at the federal
level," Malloy said in his official Twitter feed.
Even in Massachusetts, where Democrats control the state
house, the push could face an uphill political battle.
Governors may have an easier time requiring their states to
keep better mental health records than closing the gun-show
loophole, said David King, a senior lecturer in public policy at
Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
"That is probably something that the federal government has
to weigh in on," he said. Obama on Wednesday said he would call
on Congress to close the gun-show loopholes. The loophole
exempts buyers of weapons at guns shows from anyone other than a
licensed dealer to avoid a background check.
Before the December attack only California, Connecticut, New
York, New Jersey, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Maryland, plus the
District of Columbia, had some form of ban on assault weapons.
Patrick said his budget proposal will include $5 million in
new funding for state mental health programs aimed at training
school staff on how to recognize symptoms of mental illness in
students and to better train police officers to handle people
with mental illness in crisis situations.
Gun advocates said they would rather see Patrick focus on
mental health than further restricting gun ownership.
"How do you justify any more restrictions on lawfully
licensed gun owners than we already face?" said James Wallace,
executive director of the Massachusetts Gun Owners' Action
League. Wallace noted that the rate of gun injuries reported in
the state since 1998 has risen despite the laws.