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Kerry signs on to gun legislation

Bill bans sale of some magazines

State House News Service / January 26, 2011

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In the aftermath of the Arizona shooting rampage, Senator John F. Kerry said yesterday that he was cosponsoring legislation that would ban the possession or sale of high-capacity magazines, and close what he called a loophole that allows criminals to buy weapons at gun shows without a background check.

The action by Kerry puts the state’s senior senator and his Republican counterpart, Senator Scott Brown, at odds over reinstating parts of the federal assault weapons ban that was allowed to sunset in 2004.

Kerry signed on to cosponsor the new legislation in the Senate with fellow Democrat Frank Lautenberg, of New Jersey. The bill would ban the possession, import, or sale of any magazine that has the capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition — the same type of clip that authorities say was used by Jared Loughner in Tucson in the murder of six people and the shooting of US Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

“As a lifelong hunter, I know that no one is going to mess with the constitutional right to bear arms, but rights come with responsibilities, and criminals and the mentally unstable do not have a right to avoid background checks or carry military style assault weapons,’’ Kerry said. “There is no legitimate reason not to close a loophole that allows criminals to get a gun with no background check or to allow dangerous individuals access to military style assault weapons.’’

The bill carves out an exemption for high-capacity magazines possessed before the date of enactment, and also for current or retired law enforcement officers.

Brown has already come out against gun-control legislation in response to the Arizona shooting, telling the Globe on Jan. 14: “I’m not in favor of doing any additional federal regulations relating to any type of weapons or federal gun changes. I feel it should be left up to the states.’’

The legislation also amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act to require registration of gun show promoters and mandates that if any part of a firearm transaction takes place at a gun show, each licensed importer, manufacturer, and dealer who transfers a firearm to a person who is not licensed shall notify the attorney general’s office of the transfer within 10 days.