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Massachusetts has required that gun owners get permits since 1968, although initially the state approved permits automatically for anybody without major crime convictions or other disqualifying factors. In the parlance of gun control, it was a “shall issue” system rather than a “may issue” system, in which officials or law enforcement would have had leeway to deny licenses in certain circumstances.

That changed in 1998, when state lawmakers gave police broad discretion to withhold handgun licenses for people who were, in the police department’s judgment, “unsuitable.” In 2014, following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Massachusetts lawmakers, led by House Speaker Robert DeLeo, strengthened its gun laws yet again, expanding police discretion so that it applied to rifles and shotguns, too.

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Gun homicides and suicides still happen in Massachusetts, in part because people without licenses still manage to get guns. But gun violence happens a lot less frequently than it does in most states.

Adjusted for age and population, the gun fatality rate in Massachusetts for 2016 was the lowest in the U.S. And that’s how it’s been for most of the last 30 years, although sometimes another state, like Hawaii, ends up with a slightly lower rate.

Continue reading:  This Is The Toughest Gun Law In America

3 thoughts on “This Is The Toughest Gun Law In America

  1. Though I support gun control laws, I believe there are other factors involved explaining why Massachusetts has a low rate of gun violence – education, a diverse economy and, here’s a good one – a low amount of rednecks? 🙂 Yeah, that may be mean, but there’s a painful truth there.

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    • If you look beyond the U.S., you’ll see very clear evidence on the relationship between gun control and gun violence. Generally speaking, countries that have effective gun control laws have lower rates of gun violence. The evidence is so clear, in fact, that U.S. law enforcement agencies have increased their support in recent years for more gun control legislation.

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      • I’ve definitely seen documented evidence that aligns with what you’re saying. I didn’t intend to disagree. I still believe that quality of education and as low a level of desperation (diverse economy) as possible are factors that help in reducing gun violence. I’m sure there is a connection between these two factors and the electing of better politicians as well. More people are likely to vote, they are more likely to be better informed about issues and are less likely to vote out of anger.

        And, I felt like writing something mean – an adverse byproduct of the trump Effect. 🙂 Sorry, I’m losing my composure these days.

        Hopefully the trend of “law” enforcement adopting a stance of reducing violence instead of using it as a weapon continues.

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