Boston, MA – This morning’s stand-off between law enforcement and armed militia members in Wakefield is another potentially deadly encounter in a never-ending series of gun related events that point to the need for uniform federal gun safety laws. Congress needs to enact laws that require background checks and licensing and restrict the sale and ownership of military style assault weapons that are clearly meant for war and to cause mass harm to innocent citizens.
Armed with military style assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines designed for war and dressed in tactical gear, several men were traveling through Massachusetts on their way to Maine for “training” when they were approached by Massachusetts State Troopers after they had pulled over on the side of the road to refuel.
These men were allowed to purchase and carry these weapons designed for war because unlike Massachusetts, federal law, as well as Rhode Island and most other state laws, do not prohibit the ownership and sale of military-style assault weapons or require background checks or permits for most gun ownership.
The arrests happened only because Massachusetts law prohibits the ownership, sale and transport of military style assault weapons and ammunition magazines greater than ten rounds across its borders, or to carry a gun, loaded or unloaded, on a public way without a gun license.
The State Police, who are provided with 13-17 rounds of ammunition in their service weapons and who responded to the scene, are to be commended for their bravery and their ability to deescalate a situation in which they were heavily outnumbered and outgunned.
It is long past time for Congress to enact responsible national gun safety laws that require background checks for all gun sales and ban military style assault weapons in all states in order to protect all our citizens including law enforcement officials no matter where they live and work. The uneven approach taken by states across the country, including surrounding states like Rhode Island, Maine and New Hampshire, endangers citizens in states like Massachusetts that have enacted the most effective gun safety laws and now have the lowest rate of gun deaths in the nation. Sadly, and today’s stand-off drives home, until Congress enacts national gun safety laws, we’re only as safe or at-risk as the state with the weakest gun laws.
Stop Handgun Violence (SHV) is a Massachusetts based non-profit organization committed to the prevention of gun violence through education, public awareness, effective law enforcement and common-sense gun laws. SHV has been the lead advocate in Massachusetts for enactment of the most effective gun violence prevention laws and first in the nation consumer protection regulations. The organization does not seek to restrict Constitutional rights, but advocates only for common sense legislation that will help save lives. For more information, go to www.stophandgunviolence.org