I have just stopped watching today’s hearing on a new gun bill that may come out of the Massachusetts legislature this year and will no doubt be signed by the Governor. Massachusetts happens to have the lowest rate of gun violence of all 50 states and also has the most comprehensive gun-control legal environment of all 50 states.
That being the case, why is a Joint Commission on Public Safety and Homeland Security holding a five-hour public hearing on a new gun bill? For two reasons. Reason Number 1: The last gun-control law was enacted in 1999 and certain developments, in particular a new ban on assault rifles and the appearance of ‘ghost guns’ are issues which need to be incorporated into laws; Reason Number 2: The Massachusetts Legislature is overwhelmingly a bunch of liberal Democrats who have no fear that a vote on gun control will hurt them in next year’s election.
The usual suspects showed up for their three minutes of testimony — this means the gun-control groups like Moms Demand Action and The Coalition to End Gun Violence, and the pro-gun advocacy group, Gun Owners Advocacy League, which claims to have 19,000 members but they must be counting everyone who ever was a member of the group.
In 2021, according to the CDC, Massachusetts suffered 247 gun deaths, of which 136 were suicides and 99 were homicides. In other words, the so-called ‘gun problem’ is really a mental health access problem, although some of the gun suicides may not have occurred if the poor victim had to figure out a more complicated way to kill himself than simply pulling the old firearm out and — bang!
As for homicides, there were also 465 deaths in 2021 from accidents involving motor vehicles, including motorcycles, but I don’t see anyone in the Legislature asking for a public hearing to talk about how the state could lower a death rate from car accidents which is 5 times higher than the homicide rate involving guns. I also don’t notice (and here’s a bit of my own editorializing) anyone on Beacon Hill saying anything about a state gasoline tax which is so goddamn low that the state has the absolutely worst, shittiest roads anywhere. Anyway, back to guns.
Even though the Massachusetts gun violence rate is lower than every other state, in certain respects the gun violence we have is no different from what exists everywhere else, namely, that gun assaults begin to appear in the late-teen, male population, which is when boys first get…