Letter: Shawn Craig responds to new gun legislation

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letter submitted by Shawn Craig

The original intent of Speaker DeLeo’s gun control legislation was to focus on mental health and criminal offenders.  That said, the rollout of recent legislation seems to have missed the target by going so far left that one must ask whether they have any practical knowledge or understanding of basic firearms, or the criminal audience and mental health population they were supposed to safeguard our communities from in the first place.  Perhaps they had their eyes closed through the entire process.  No one wants unsafe streets; however, it is time to stop punishing law-abiding citizens who support the protection of our Second Amendment rights.

As a U.S. Marine and Iraq War veteran who swore an oath to uphold the constitution of the United States, I find it extremely concerning when our elected officials want to infringe on our rights in order to look as if they are tackling a public safety problem.

I am not sure if my Democratic opponent Mr. Green of Northbridge has read the bill or just doesn’t understand the provisions within the legislation.  While not all sections of the bill are bad, there are several huge problems that may eliminate Second Amendment rights within the Commonwealth.  People should remember that Massachusetts already has some of the toughest laws on the books, but they are rarely used in enforcement.  For example, Bartley-Fox requires a one year mandatory sentence for illegally possessing a firearm.  It is rare that law is enforced.

There has been much confusion over which firearms can be legally sold here.  There are two state agencies responsible for approving –the Executive Office of Public Safety and the Consumer Protection division of the Attorney General’s office.  The Attorney General’s office doesn’t recognize the approved list from the Executive Office.  If the bill passes, Section 32 will allow the Attorney General to arbitrarily remove any firearms from the Approved Firearms Roster.  Given the foregoing, one person would have complete power to ban any and all firearms within the state.  This move could severely limit all rights for ownership.

The state already has problems with local police chiefs authorizing permits.  This legislation won’t clarify the problem.  It will make it significantly worse.  The bill will authorize regulations to be determined at a later date without public input or legislative oversight.  We cannot allow our Second Amendment rights to be taken away by regulation.

Since the last time the legislature passed major reform, legal firearm ownership has decreased by 80%.  I think we want to encourage legal ownership, not illegal.  The 1998 legislation was passed on the premise it would reduce crime.  The opposite has occurred.  Within that 15 year time period, gun related homicides have doubled and gun assaults have tripled while we have lost a Congressional seat due to population decline.

We can all agree that mental health issues need to be addressed, but we should not be infringing on law abiding citizens’ rights.

The bill changes the issuance of FID cards from “shall issue” to “may issue,” giving MA Police Chiefs full discretionary powers as to who may legally own a firearm.  Unfortunately, current legislation wrongly sets forth a “suitability” requirement allowing for subjective and potentially arbitrary “suitability” decisions to me made in restricting an individual’s civil rights.  If legislation focused instead on the use of “prohibited person” language, it would at least place the burden of proof for denial squarely on the shoulders of the government.

Section 18 of the proposed legislation bans the private sale of firearms between already vetted, licensed individuals.  What is the point here?  How does this disrupt the sale of illegal guns among violent criminals? What was the driver for such change?  This section would unrealistically expect licensed individuals to meet at a firearm retailer to carry out the transaction.  Retailers don’t want people coming in to do this.

Other sections include increased penalties for storage violations though strict storage laws already exist with no evidence or proof of reason to change; stigmatize lawful commerce by requiring suicide prevention information in stores; force several unfunded mandates (including more to be borne by our already overburdened school systems); give authority to the Colonel of the state police to determine who is suitable to become a certified firearms instructor, removes any recognition of nationally recognized firearms organizations; and gives authority to government entities, with little to no experience in providing firearms education to citizens, to in turn create a standardized curriculum for mandatory firearms courses.

It is quite clear that the writers of the legislation bore no want or interest in listening to or acquiring input from those most knowledgeable in the subject matter such as the Gun Owners’ Action League (“GOAL”) of which I am proud to be a member.

By way of municipal and community background, I am a member of the Upton Finance Committee and its liaison to the Mendon Upton Regional School District.  I also serve as the Vice-Chairman of the Mendon-Upton Multi-Board Task Force.  In addition, I am an active member of the VFW and Upton Men’s Club.

Professionally, I have 18 years of private sector experience with the majority spent within the financial services industry.  I worked for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) for 8.5 years where I investigated broker-dealers for compliance with federal securities laws and FINRA rules and regulations.  This included both routine as well as special investigations involving the review and discovery of money laundering, fraud, embezzlement, insider trading and unsuitable investments. One investigation of which I was the team lead resulted in the discovery of fraud and misrepresentation at a firm located in Braintree, MA.  I drafted a referral whereby the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission became engaged along with the FBI.  The firm’s owner was detained October 2, 2012 and sentenced in April 2013 to 17 years in federal prison plus 3 years supervised probation and $9 million in restitution.  I left FINRA in 2013 to start a consulting business focused on helping small broker-dealers.

My academic education includes earning a B.A. from Roanoke College, where I double majored in International Relations and Business, and an M.S. in Finance from Suffolk University in Boston.

4 Comments

  1. Shawn is on target with this letter. It seems Mr. Green hopped upon the “me too for more gun laws” bandwagon. Along with the other ignorant gun grabbing politicians of Beacon Hill, they continue with the “Look good, feel good” method of solving the gun crime problem by going after the law abiding gun owners. It’s so much easier to blame the gun, and lawful gun owners when a tragic gun crime occurs. What may have stopped these incidents where a bad guy with a gun went on a mass-murder spree? A good guy with a gun. Why do the Beacon Hill elite still insist on making it harder for the good guys?

  2. “The 1998 legislation was passed on the premise it would reduce crime. The opposite has occurred. Within that 15 year time period, gun related homicides have doubled and gun assaults have tripled while we have lost a Congressional seat due to population decline.”

    I’m sure Craig took a statistics course somewhere and should have learned that correlation does not necessarily mean causation. The reasons for the increase in gun violence in MA are complex and argued about by the experts. Nonetheless, Massachusetts has a very low level of gun related fatalities (second-lowest in the nation in 2010 according to the Boston Globe and CDC).

  3. Informative article, very good points about elected leaders just piling on more laws to look like they are doing something that essentially just adds MORE to politically show ACTION without really thinking thru the result it is intended to achieve. It is always interesting to understand that existing laws and the implementing rules/procedures that are not uniformly or consistently enforced can be just updated or revised do the same thing!

  4. Great article! More services for mental health, and less focus on law abiding citizens. I’m sure the criminals LOVE tighter restrictions for those who own legally. I’m sure if MORE gun laws are passed they will finally turn in their weapons and stop committing crimes against law abiding non gun owning citizens.

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