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Chief Sheehan, Senate Candidate Payano Support Tougher House Version of Gun Bill

Jul 23, 2014 03:48PM ● By Bill Gilman

Tewksbury Police Chief Timothy Sheehan has joined with fellow Bay State law enforcement officials and thrown his support behind proposed gun legislation that would give local police chiefs more discretion over the awarding of FID permits for rifles.

Sheehan was unable to attend a rally earlier this week on the steps of the State House, at which Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association from around the state gathered to express their support for the a bill approved by the state's House of Representatives. But he said he supported the bill and felt it is in the best interests of public safety.

"It doesn’t make any sense that someone who a chief determines is unsuitable to possess a (License To Carry) and firearms would be able to obtain an FID and rifles," said Sheehan. "The current statute is inconsistent with respect to this issue and I agree with the MCOPA that the suitability provision should be extended to FID’s."

Sheehan said the strengthening of the law is particularly important as another tool in helping to prevent future mass shooting tragedies.

"As you well know, most of the active shooter incidents throughout the country have been perpetrated by individuals that are in possession of rifles," said Sheehan.

Also throwing her support behind the bill's "Police Chief Discretion" provision is Middlesex County D.A. MaryBeth Ryan.

“Before someone is issued a permit to obtain a lethal weapon, we need to take basic steps to ensure that this person is not a threat to themselves, to their family members, or to their community," said Ryan. "This legislation allows police to use simple common sense to make sure that rifles and shotguns don’t end up in the hands of people who are a threat."

While the House version of the bill includes that provision, the version passed by the Senate removed the provision. The bill is presently in committee as the two bodies seek a compromise.

State Senator Barry Finegold, D-Andover, a candidate for State Treasurer, voted with the majority of his colleagues in the Senate to remove the "Chief's Discretion" language.

Andover Republican Alex Vispoli, a candidate to succeed Finegold as state senator, said he agrees with Finegold on this issue.

"It is my hope that the Senate version will emerge from the conference committee," said Vispoli.

Another Senate candidate, Lawrence Democrat Pavel Payano, released a statement in which he said he was disappointed in the language of the Senate bill and supported the House version.

"The Senate has taken their time to come up with a thoughtful approach to produce a workable bill that could help decrease gun violence in our state. However I am surprised that the Senate removed the provision that allows Police Chiefs the discretion to not allow gun licenses to individuals that are engaged in behavior that are legitimate threats to public safety," said Payano. "This provision exists under current handgun laws and it would have only extended that discretion to rifles and shotguns. I hope that our legislators will come together to ensure that our Police Chiefs have the tools they need to keep guns out of individuals who pose a threat to our communities."

Democratic Senate candidates Barbara L'Italien of Andover and Doris Rodriguez of Lawrence did not respond to requests seeking comment on the gun legislation.

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