BOSTON (SHNS) – More than one week into fall, top House Democrats have yet to disclose their plan to tackle gun reform legislation that’s now been mired in a procedural dispute with the Senate for nearly three months.
The House tried to send Rep. Michael Day’s omnibus gun reform package (HD 4420) to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, which the Stoneham Democrat co-chairs, on June 26. But it became logjammed on July 10, when Senate leaders disagreed with that assignment and instead wanted to refer it to the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.
As of Tuesday, the bill remains lodged in the House Clerk’s while officials there await direction on a committee assignment.
Spokespeople for House Speaker Ron Mariano and Day told the News Service on Tuesday they intend to take up the legislation this fall, though they stopped short of committing to a firmer timeline.
Facing pushback from representatives on Day’s bill — which looks to crack down on ghost guns, standardize firearm training, overhaul licensing rules, and block people from carrying guns in schools, polling places, government buildings and private property without the owner’s consent — Mariano postponed his initial plan for the House to approve the package before its August break.
In late July, Mariano said the new timeline was for House leaders to “work on the bill until it is ready for debate this Fall,” but officials in recent weeks have not pegged a more concrete timeline to consider the bill that Day filed 99 days ago. The bill has drawn strong criticism from gun owners.
Ruth Zakarian, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, said the organization intends to pressure lawmakers to work urgently to halt more shootings from happening in the commonwealth. Some 250 gun safety activists, including from the coalition, held an advocacy day at the State House last month, where they had private meetings with lawmakers about Day’s proposal and other measures they support, such as stricter protections for ghost guns.
“There is energy and commitment to taking action to address gun violence — I didn’t get a sense of a specific timeline,” Zakarian told the News Service on Tuesday, as she reflected on the advocacy day. “We are going to lift up that there is urgency, that trauma is happening now, families are experiencing loss now, and communities are experiencing trauma now.”
In the Senate, Majority Leader Cindy Creem is seeking input as the branch develops its own gun reform bill.
Creem, in a newsletter to constituents Friday, said she wants to ensure “all voices” are included in discussions. A Creem aide told the News Service on Tuesday that it’s unclear when the Newton Democrat will share findings with Senate President Karen Spilka and when a bill itself will be drafted.
“I have been meeting with Senators, gun safety activists, gun owners, and police and public safety officials (including Newton Police Chief John F. Carmichael) to identify areas where we can come up with bipartisan, collaborative legislation to tackle gun violence,” Creem wrote. “I look forward to presenting our findings to the Senate president in due course in order to help inform and shape the Senate’s action this session on this critical issue.”