AFTER SKEPTICISM, BAKER SAYS DATA SHOWS NEED FOR FEDERAL ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN
By Andy Metzger
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, FEB. 28, 2018….Congress should follow the Bay State’s lead and pass a law similar to the state’s ban on assault weapons, Gov. Charlie Baker said.
“Look, I think the assault weapons ban in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, based on all the data that’s available, has served this Commonwealth well, and I think it would be appropriate at this point for the federal government to adopt something similar,” Baker said Wednesday afternoon.
(MAGR Editor: WHAT DATA Gov. ?)
Following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead and launched the nation into another debate about access to guns, the governor has touted Massachusetts’ gun laws.
“I’ve said several times on some of these other major tragedies associated with guns that I would like to see the federal government pursue many of the strategies and the policies that we have here in the commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Baker said last Thursday.
Hours before the governor’s comments, Setti Warren, a Democrat who is hoping to challenge the Republican incumbent in his re-election bid this year, released footage of Baker talking about the assault weapons ban four or five years ago where he seemed skeptical of the approach.
In the prior appearance on New England Cable News, Baker said he would need to see evidence before supporting a federal assault weapons ban.
“If I thought it would solve the problem, I’d be all for it. I need to see the evidence,” Baker told the program’s host, Jim Braude.
Baker said gun crime had “gone up … by a lot” since the state’s 1998 assault weapons ban.
Warren’s campaign said the interview occurred in 2014, but during the TV interview it is clear that Baker was not a declared candidate at the time, meaning it took place before his September 2013 campaign launch.
During the interview, Braude described Baker as “keeping us guessing about his future political plans,” and said it was his first TV interview since the 2012 election.
Online, NECN says the interview was published in 2014. Baker won his race for governor in November 2014.
When a super PAC backed by Democrats cut an ad in 2014 claiming Baker refused to support a ban on assault rifles and citing the NECN interview, Baker’s campaign spokesman refuted that, telling the Boston Globe, “Charlie supports the state and federal assault weapon bans.”
“Charlie Baker is a master at saying what people want to hear,” said Warren spokesman Kevin Franck. He said, “The words he uses may change depending on his audience, but, on gun safety, his actions have been consistent.”
Franck cited Baker’s criticism of Attorney General Maura Healey for going after copycat assault weapons and hiring the president of the Gun Owner’s Action League to be the commissioner of Fish and Game.
“Baker even found a convenient excuse to weasel out of signing the bump stock ban passed in the wake of the massacre in Las Vegas last fall,” Franck wrote in an email to the News Service.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito signed the bump-stock ban as part of a spending bill last November while the governor was on vacation in California. Before the bill passed, Baker spoke in support of banning the device that can make a semiautomatic rifle fire more like a machine gun.
“That should be outlawed, and if that were to pass tomorrow we would sign it,” Baker said in October.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who has been involved in gun legislation in the past, said Massachusetts has “probably the strongest gun laws” in the country.
DeLeo is “still speaking with” members of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee about a bill proposed by Rep. Marjorie Decker, a Cambridge Democrat, the speaker told reporters on Wednesday. The committee has a deadline of April 15 to issue a report on the bill.
Decker’s bill (H 3610) would establish a legal tool called an extreme risk protection order that could be issued by a court based on someone’s pattern of violence, dangerous mental health issues among other factors, and would prevent someone from owning any firearms or ammunition for one year.
“Some people have stated to me that under our present law we may be able to address that issue, so that’s what I’m looking at right now,” DeLeo told reporters.
Baker on Wednesday said that local police chiefs can take away someone’s license to carry and “confiscate their weapons” if they are deemed dangerous.
“But obviously we should always be interested in considering other alternatives as well,” Baker added.