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June 29, 2019

Boston Globe: Markey, Pressley, Kennedy propose federal grants for states that adopt Mass. gun laws

Senator Edward J. Markey and Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Joe Kennedy III will propose this week that the federal government offer grants to states that implement gun laws similar to those in Massachusetts.

The state has “some of the most life-saving gun safety laws on the books,” said Markey, who first offered a similar bill last year, although it went nowhere in a GOP-led Senate, in a statement.

This time, Markey, Pressley, and Kennedy are introducing the measure in their respective chambers.

The bill, entitled the “Making America Safe and Secure Act,” would offer federal funds for states that require gun owners to have licenses and be subject to background checks, as well as safety training for first-time gun owners.

States would get grant money from the Department of Justice for implementing and maintaining the licensing and programs for three years.

“Strong gun licensing rules, red flag laws, and robust police involvement are key to the strength of Massachusetts’s gun laws, and the MASS Act will encourage other states to implement these proven methods,” Markey said.

To participate, states would have to require anyone who sells ammunition or firearms in a calendar year to obtain a license. Further, gun dealers would be subject to an investigation of their criminal history.

Police chiefs, or those in charge of local law enforcement, would be designated as the licensing authority and would have the power to deny, suspend, or revoke a license.

States would also have to establish a so-called red flag law, in which family members can petition for an “Extreme Risk Protection Order” if they believe a person is a risk to themselves or others. If an individual was subjected to an ERPO, they would have to surrender or transfer their firearms.

Massachusetts had the second-lowest gun death rate in the country in 2017, with 3.7 deaths per 100,000 people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. It’s also one of 17 states with red flag laws, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

“By creating stricter guardrails around firearm purchasing, the MASS Act actively curbs the public health crisis that is gun violence,” Pressley said in a statement.

However, just like last year, the bill’s chances at becoming law appear slim. Such a measure would face a steep challenge in the GOP-led Senate.