House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo unveiled a proposal Tuesday for the most comprehensive changes to Massachusetts gun laws in 16 years, saying that the state cannot wait for federal action to curb gun violence.
Under the bill, local police would be given expanded discretion to consider a person’s “suitability” to own a gun, the state would join a national database for criminal and mental-health background checks, and all private sales of firearms would be conducted in the presence of a licensed dealer.
“I knew we had to do something,” said DeLeo, who listed, one by one, several fatal shootings that have occurred in the state since mid-May. “Our goal here in Massachusetts is to make serious and long-standing change.”DeLeo said he hoped the bill, which was fueled in large part by the December 2012 shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, could be enacted by the end of the legislative session in July. His press conference came days after a shooting and stabbing spree in California left six people dead.
The proposal followed dozens of hearings and meetings held by lawmakers around the state, complemented by a separate study from a gun violence task force led by Jack McDevitt, associate dean of research at Northeastern University’s College of Social Sciences and Humanities.