Firearm Legislation in Massachusetts
September 5, 2013
The Massachusetts legislature will be reviewing new possible gun legislation in the upcoming session. Many suggestions are being made as to how to approach gun regulation while simultaneously decreasing gun crimes in the Commonwealth. One suggestion is for Massachusetts to pass laws that keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals.
Generally, legally owned guns are less likely to be used to commit crimes than illegally owned guns. In most instances, when legally owned guns are used against a person, it is a case of self defense, defense of a third party, defense of property, domestic violence, or suicide. Because most criminals are using illegally obtained guns to commit crimes, it is important that the Massachusetts legislature do something to stop criminals from acquiring and carrying these illegal firearms.
One specific suggestion made is that the Commonwealth pass certain legislation requiring that anyone over the age of 16 who is discovered to be in possession of an illegal firearm be prosecuted in an adult gun court. Those offenders under the age of 16 would be prosecuted in a juvenile level gun court. The gun court would not only have the authority to charge, but also try, and sentence for the possession of the illegal firearm and/or ammunition. If convicted, it is suggested that there be a mandatory minimum incarceration for first time adult offenders, and a mandatory rehabilitation program for first time juvenile offenders.
The theory behind gun court is fast paced procedures and dispositions. Currently, the gun courts implemented by the Suffolk County District Attorney, Dan Conley, have claimed an 89% conviction rate. “Conley conceived of the Gun Court after hearing repeatedly from community members who were frustrated that gun defendants were back on the street so soon after arraignment and for so long before their cases were finally resolved.” As a solution to this problem, Gun Court was created. Now, when a case is prosecuted in gun court it receives a pre-trial hearing date within 45 days of arraignment. This way, prosecutors and defense attorneys are able to conference the case with one another soon after the Defendant has his or her first day in Court. Additionally, in each case placed in gun court, a final disposition is reached within 120 days of arraignment. Due to this fast paced approach, alleged firearm criminals spend much less time on the streets while their case is pending.
In my opinion, Gun Court is an effective way to prosecute firearm crimes separately than other crimes. It allows for special attention and time considerations to be placed on those who are alleged to have committed these offenses. Currently, Gun Courts are not present throughout the entire Commonwealth. If they were implemented state-wide, I believe it would be a positive step towards keeping illegal guns off the streets and decreasing firearm crime throughout Massachusetts.
If you have been charged with a firearm or weapon offense or any other criminal offense in Massachusetts, contact my office immediately for your free initial consultation: