The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, July 11, 2002  

Bay State Moves to Allow Felons to Carry Handguns

What’s up with those Massachusetts liberals? Yesterday the state House of Representatives voted 114 to 32 to allow most convicted felons to buy and carry guns: handguns with the approval of the local police chief; other firearms, including rifles and shotguns, without further review.

Rep. Timothy J. Toomey, the measure’s sponsor and a Democrat from Cambridge (Huh? We thought all those guys were soft-on-crime bleeding-hearts.), complained existing laws prevented residents who committed felonies during their carefree youth from arming themselves as law-abiding citizens, according to a report in today’s Boston Globe.

“There are too many people who were convicted of a simple assault or battery. It could have happened 20 or 30 years ago,” Toomey said. “They have since served their country and are good citizens.”

We’re not exactly sure what Toomey means by that, but apparently he believes his proposed measure does nothing more dangerous than rectifying a horribly misguided denial of gun-owning privileges to bar-brawling war veterans.

As it now stands, Massachusetts law forbids anyone convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor from buying a gun. “[T]he House bill would eliminate the lifetime ban [but] keeps the ban in place for domestic violence offenders,” according to the Globe.

Toomey’s bill, if enacted, would allow ex-cons to apply for gun permits seven years after completing their sentences. Applications for licenses to carry handguns would require approval from the local police chief. However, the Globe reports, “those seeking permits to buy and possess rifles and shotguns would not be subject to any other review.”

Forgive us if the distinction is lost on us.

The bill, which passed the House on a fast track, is expected to encounter greater opposition in the Senate and Attorney General Thomas Reilly opposes the measure. The Globe did not report the position of Gov. Jane Swift (R) or the candidates seeking their respective parties’ gubernatorial nominations in this year’s election.

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