BOSTON (WWLP) - Hundreds of gun owners, including more than one hundred from western Massachusetts, rallied on the Boston Common Tuesday to protest tougher gun laws proposed in the wake of mass school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
"That has nothing to do with a gun issue, that's strictly a mental health issue," said Bob Quigley, who travelled to Boston from the Berkshires.
The Gun Owners Action League has more than 15,000 Massachusetts members and many of them marched to the State House out of concern of having their gun rights violated.
"We already have the toughest gun laws in the country and we don't need anymore," said Westfield Sportsmen's Club president Ray Frappier.
Massachusetts has an assault weapons ban, restricts high-capacity magazines and requires gun purchasers to undergo background checks. Despite these measures, gun owners point to state statistics that show deaths involving firearms have doubled in the last 15 years.
"We just can't keep throwing law after law after law that doesn't work on top of another law. We already tried that, it doesn't work," said Bill Gogol, owner of B.G. Sporting in Westfield.
But those same statistics show that gun violence has decreased since 2007. Several gun control bills have been filed on Beacon Hill that range from requiring gun owners to buy liability insurance to Governor Deval Patrick's legislation that enrolls the state in a national mental health registry for firearm background checks.
"I think that the concern that gun owners have that somebody is going to take their guns away is misplaced," said Patrick
The governor said he opposes the NRA's position to arm teachers as a means to address gun violence in schools; he believes balanced gun control can be found that protects public safety and maintains gun ownership rights.