Why it Matters: On June 26, 2023, members of the Massachusetts House introduced MA House Docket (HD) 4420 An Act Modernizing Firearm Laws, an aggressive gun control package that takes aim at a wide swath of firearm ownership and use. After its introduction, HD 4420 quickly made its way to the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security on July 10, 2023, and was scheduled for a closed-door hearing on July 24th. In what was expected to be a quiet summer in the Bay State legislatively, business has certainly picked up with little time to waste. Weighing in at a whopping 142 pages, as introduced, HD 4420 (if passed) would make a great majority of Bay State sportsmen and women criminals instantly. We will highlight some of the more relevant issues to sportsmen and women below, but certainly all Bay State firearm owners need to pay attention to what is at their doorstep.
- On Monday, June 26, 2023, members of the Massachusetts House introduced MA HD 4420 An Act Modernizing Firearm Laws.
- HD 4420 is the most sweeping gun control legislation introduced thus far this session, and there are many points of interest specific to the sporting community.
- HD 4420 would prohibit firearms on any private property, including but not limited to residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, institutional or undeveloped property, unless the owner has provided express consent or has posted a sign indicating that it is permissible to carry on the premises a firearm with a valid and lawfully issued firearm license.
- The prohibition on the purchase of semi-automatic firearms of any kind for citizens 21 years of age or younger, shotgun and modern sporting rifles, limits young adult sportsmen and women to primitive muzzleloading type firearms and manual pump and bolt action, single shot rifles, or archery equipment for their hunting and recreational shooting pursuits.
- All firearms and feeding devices manufactured, assembled, possessed, purchased or otherwise transferred or acquired in the commonwealth or imported into the commonwealth shall be serialized.
On June 26, 2023, members of the Massachusetts House introduced MA House Docket (HD) 4420 An Act Modernizing Firearm Laws. After its introduction, HD 4420 quickly made its way to the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security on July 10, 2023, and was scheduled for a closed-door hearing on July 24th. The result of the July 24th hearing was to pause further action for the remainder of the summer and reengage this fall. The goal of House leadership was to gain support and expedite HD 4420 before the end of July. With this break for summer recess, legislators will now have time to dive deep into the 142 pages and engage their constituents. The sporting community in the Commonwealth will also have time to ensure all sportsmen and women are aware of the disasters contained within HD 4420 and respond accordingly.
As noted, HD 4420 has far reaching implications on the sporting community of the Bay State, to include how conservation efforts are funded. According to a National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) estimate, “80 percent of Pittman-Robertson excise tax contributions are generated by sales attributed to recreational shooting.” Those recreational shooters are not shooting manual pump shotguns and muzzleloaders alone.
The proposed restrictions on private property and lands would drastically limit access to sportsmen and women in the state. Massachusetts has a long-standing tradition of open access land sharing dating back to our founding. The loss of access to these private lands by default due to non-compliance of posting signage or landowners not knowledgeable of such a requirement would be devastating to the sporting community, wildlife managers, and the state’s funding mechanisms.
Limiting lawful adult residents from the purchase of multiple variants of hunting platforms is, firstly, a cost prohibitive barrier as many Bay State sportsmen and women utilize one semi-automatic shotgun platform for multiple pursuits. Secondly, limiting the options in the marketplace will have negative effects on our nation’s conservation funding via the unique “user pays – public benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF). The funds collected through this program are the lifeblood of state fish and wildlife agencies, including the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) – the primary manager of Massachusetts’ fish and wildlife resources. It is widely recognized that recreational target shooters, who per-capita, spend even more money on firearms and ammunition than hunters, are the financial keystone for the ASCF.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) looks forward to continued coordination with in-state and national partners, and members of the Massachusetts Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, in opposing HD 4420, legislation that undermines the Second Amendment of our Constitution, but also causes great harm to our traditions and conservation efforts by the sporting community in the Bay State.