Senate passes extreme risk bill to strengthen gun laws

BOSTON – On June 7, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her Senate colleagues in voting to engross H.4539, An Act Relative to Firearms. The bill, also known as the “Red Flag” bill or “ERPO” bill, allows a judge to order the immediate suspension and surrender of any license to carry firearms from an at-risk person when petitioned by that person’s family or household member.

The legislation supplements Massachusetts’ extensive commonsense gun control and public safety regulations which have led to the lowest rates of gun deaths in the nation, at 3.4 per 100,000 residents. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives in May. The legislation additionally amends the statute regulating stun guns.

“This bill is a commonsense measure that ensures Massachusetts continues to lead the way on gun control by empowering families and household members with an effective tool to prevent suicides and other gun deaths,” said Senator Friedman. “Moving forward, we must continue to look for more ways to protect the safety and security of our residents.”

Studies have shown that individuals who are experiencing a crisis and are engaged in dangerous behaviors are significantly more likely to commit an act of violence towards themselves or others within the near future. Tragically, the current legal framework rarely provides a mechanism for witnesses of this behavior to take preventative action before a tragedy occurs. Five states have already enacted similar “Red Flag” laws.

Senator Friedman continued, “To all of the students in my district who walked out of their classrooms on National Walkout Day, came to the State House to advocate for this bill, and have continually raised their voices to express their support for stronger gun laws: thank you. I hope that you will continue to stand up for what you believe in and advocate for the issues you care about in the future because you can truly make a difference.”

A Conference Committee worked out the differences between the Senate bill and the version passed by the House of Representatives in May. The final bill, H.4670, was signed into law on July 3, 2018.