Lawmakers from Boston, Lawrence, Newton and Springfield file legislation to prevent the manufacture of assault weapons in Massachusetts

April 20, 2021

Today, State Representatives Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge) and Frank Moran (D-Lawrence) filed legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Cynthia Creem (D-Newton) and Rep. Bud Williams (D-Springfield), that would prohibit the in-state manufacture of assault weapons that are banned in Massachusetts. The text of the bill can be found here.

Massachusetts law prohibits the sale, transfer or possession of assault style weapons and large capacity feeding devices with 10 or more rounds. Yet, companies located in Massachusetts continue to manufacture, possess, transport and export assault weapons that are prohibited in the Commonwealth – contributing to gun violence, injuries and deaths in other states.

Since the federal assault weapons ban expired in 2004, Smith and Wesson, based in Springfield, has become one of the country’s largest manufacturers of AR 15 military style assault pistols and rifles, many of which have been used in high profile mass shootings across the United States.

The legislation would prohibit these weapons from being manufactured in the Commonwealth.

“Military-style assault weapons are designed for the sole purpose of efficiently killing many people at once. If private citizens no longer have access to these kinds of assault weapons, then fewer people will die due to mass shootings,” said bill sponsor Representative Marjorie Decker of Cambridge. “We must decide what we value more — the freedom to live without fear of being shot in a mass shooting, or the ‘freedom’ to allow the manufacture of military-style weapons in our name, in our State. We don’t allow these assault weapons to be made and sold here in Massachusetts to private citizens, so why should they be sold in other states to private citizens?”

“The safety of our communities is of the utmost importance to me, but I also feel strongly about Massachusetts’ role in the national discussion surrounding mass shootings and gun safety,” said State Representative Frank A. Moran. “We must protect our citizens and law enforcement officials from the harm that these military-style weapons cause, while also taking critical steps to protect law enforcement across the country to ensure that they are not outgunned by weapons made here in Massachusetts.”

“We often speak proudly of our tough gun laws in Massachusetts, however, we can no longer allow assault weapons built here to be the cause of any more tragedies,” said Senator Cindy Creem (D. Newton). “We must act to prevent more families from suffering the loss of loved ones by weapons that we do not allow in our own state, and I am proud to work with this coalition and be the Senate sponsor of this important bill.” “As one of the founders of Community Resources Against Community Killers (C.R.A.C.K), I have always been an advocate for providing resources to empower the community and fought hard to get guns off the streets locally”, says Representative Bud Williams of Springfield. “With the upsurge of so many senseless mass shootings, exporting firearms that are banned here in Massachusetts to be sold to other states is unacceptable! We must do what is necessary to protect ALL citizens here in Massachusetts and across the country by implementing Common Sense Gun Violence Prevention Laws.”

Stop Handgun Violence, a Massachusetts-based organization committed to the prevention of gun violence through education, public awareness, effective law enforcement and common-sense gun laws, conceived of the proposal.

“Stop Handgun Violence has been the lead advocate for passage of the most effective gun safety laws in the nation and we have the results to prove it. The Commonwealth now has the lowest gun death rate and lowest cost of gun violence in the United States.” said John Rosenthal, founder of Stop Handgun Violence. “But our duty extends beyond our State borders. Thousands of military style assault weapons are manufactured in Massachusetts that can’t even be sold in the Commonwealth because of our permanent assault weapons ban. There is a mass shooting of four or more people every single day in America and many of the assault weapons used by mass shooters are made right here in the Commonwealth. If these weapons of war can’t be owned here, why should they be able to be made here and then used to massacre people in other states? We must do everything we can to prevent their manufacture in Massachusetts for distribution across the United States.”

The parents of two victims of mass shootings carried out by people armed with assault rifles manufactured in Massachusetts support the legislation and vowed to remain active in its advocacy.

“My daughter Jessica was killed in a movie theater when a shooter was able to purchase a Massachusetts-made assault weapon with a 100-round drum magazine,” said Sandy Phillips with her husband Lonnie Phillips, parents of Jessica Ghawi who died in the Aurora, Colorado Theater shooting. “Every day, I have to live with the pain of this event and without the joy of my daughter. I’m here today because I will do anything it takes to prevent future casualties.”

“My son, Joaquin, was killed by an individual that was able to legally purchase a Massachusetts-made military style assault weapon,” said Manuel Oliver with his wife Patricia Oliver, parents of Joaquin Oliver, who was killed in the Parkland, Florida school mass shooting. “No one should be able to purchase these weapons that are able to kill dozens of people in a matter of minutes, but, without a federal ban, states can act independently to ban the sale and manufacture of these weapons. Massachusetts should act now to prevent these weapons from doing further damage to communities like mine.”

The following are just a few examples of the deadly results:

  • A Massachusetts manufactured AR 15 military style assault weapon that is prohibited in the Commonwealth was used in the Parkland Florida High School Shooting that killed 17 students and educators and injured 17 others.
  • A Massachusetts manufactured AR 15 military style assault weapon that is prohibited in the Commonwealth was used in the Aurora Colorado Theater Shooting that left 12 dead and 70 injured.
  • A Massachusetts manufactured AR 15 military style assault weapon that is prohibited in the Commonwealth was used in the San Bernardino California Christmas Party Shooting that left 16 dead and 24 injured.
  • A Massachusetts manufactured AR 15 military style assault weapon was used in the Poway California Synagogue Shooting that left one dead and three injured.
  • A Massachusetts manufactured AR 15 military style assault weapon was among many firearms found with the Las Vegas Country Music festival shooter, who left 60 dead and 558 injured.

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