Why It Matters: On October 18, 2023, members of the Massachusetts House introduced MA House Bill (HB) 4139 An Act Modernizing Firearm Laws, formally House Docket (HD) 4607, formally HD 4420 which the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) reported and engaged on in July of 2023 and throughout the Summer Recess. HB 4139 is an aggressive gun control package that takes aim at a wide swath of firearm ownership and use. After its introduction in the House, HB 4139 was fast tracked to a floor vote that resulted in a 120 Yeas to 38 Nays and 2 N/Vs, on the same day, advancing HB 4139 to the Senate where the Senate will decide to take up the House Bill or craft their own. If passed, HB 4139 would make a great majority of Bay State sportsmen and women criminals instantly.
- On Monday, October 18, 2023, members of the Massachusetts House introduced MA HB 4139 An Act Modernizing Firearm Laws. On that same day, the House voted in favor of the Bill which now advances to the Senate where the Senate will decide to take up the House Bill or craft their own.
- Massachusetts Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Nicholas Boldyga, Rep. Angelo D’Emilia, and Rep. David Viera were 3 of 38 the Nays, voting in opposition of HB 4139.
- CSF Massachusetts Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair, Nicholas Boldyga, took to the floor and presented arguments against HB 4139 and in favor of law-abiding firearm owning Bay Staters.
- HB 4139 is the most sweeping gun control legislation introduced thus far this session, and there are many points of interest specific to the sporting community.
- HB 4139 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 October 18, 2023, members of the Massachusetts House introduced MA House Bill (HB) 4139 An Act Modernizing Firearm Laws. After its introduction, HB 4139 quickly made its way to the House Floor for a vote. The result of the October 18th vote saw 120 Yeas, 38 Nays and 2 N/V advancing the legislation to the Senate where the Senate will decide to take up the House Bill or craft their own.
As noted, HB 4139 has far reaching implications on the sporting community of the Bay State, to include conservation funding generated by all sportsmen and women. 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, which are some of the only firearms that would not be further restricted under this bill.
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 the original colonies. 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.
Forcing lawful adult residents to purchase a new hunting platform in order to continue their participation may be a cost prohibitive barrier, as many Bay State sportsmen and women currently utilize one semi-automatic shotgun platform for multiple pursuits. Should these semi-automatic shotguns be prohibited with the passage of HB 4139, individuals would be forced to incur additional costs to continue participating in hunting and the shooting sports if other suitable, non-prohibited firearms are not already in their possession.
Secondly, and as noted above, limiting the options in the marketplace will likely 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. Restrictions on firearm sales and use will likely decrease the manufacturer-level excises taxes collected on firearms and ammunition, which then decreases the overall pool of money available to state fish and wildlife agencies (including MassWildlife) through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation looks forward to continued coordination with in state and national partners, and members of the Massachusetts Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, in opposing HB 4139 – legislation that undermines the Second Amendment of our Constitution, and also causes great harm to the traditions and conservation efforts of the sporting community in the Bay State.