Governor’s gun bill will be revived, DeLeo says

By Kyle Cheney
State House News Service / June 15, 2010

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Governor Deval Patrick’s proposal to limit gun purchasers to one firearm per month and toughen penalties for gun offenses will see action on the House floor, Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said yesterday, nearly a week after lawmakers appeared to have sent the bill to a legislative graveyard.

“It will be debated on the floor,’’ DeLeo told reporters after speaking at a State House event.

The speaker’s commitment is a boost for Patrick, who has blistered lawmakers in recent weeks for seemingly allowing his proposal to languish. The governor has juxtaposed the lack of action on his bill with recent incidents of gun violence in Boston.

Last week, the bill’s future dimmed when a botched vote by the Judiciary Committee resulted in its rejection based on a 4-4 tie, despite reports that six members had voted for it and only four against. The committee tally also showed that nearly half of the 17-member panel had voted to take no immediate position, known in legislative parlance as voting to reserve their rights.

Referring to the committee’s disputed rejection of his bill, Patrick said yesterday that he is working with DeLeo “to see if we can’t fix that.’’

“It is an important initiative,’’ the governor said. “It’s important to neighborhoods. You have only to pick up the paper, listen to the news and see the fear that’s in some of the neighborhoods because of the proliferation of guns.’’

Patrick added: “It’s very frustrating, but you know it’s going to take more than frustration to get it to move. I have been in touch with the speaker. He has assured me he’s going to do what he can to sort this out.’’

Under the governor’s bill, violators who purchase more than one gun per month would face a maximum fine of $1,000 or a 30-month jail sentence on a first offense, and a maximum $5,000 fine or five years in prison on a subsequent offense.

The bill also permits the state agency that manages criminal records and the courts to transmit to the attorney general any information necessary to conduct a background check on a person purchasing a firearm or gun license. In addition, the bill bars the possession of a machine gun except by instructors, collectors, or law enforcement officers.

DeLeo said the bill could be sent back to the Judiciary Committee and then on to the House Ways and Means Committee.

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