The usual gun play

When it comes to guns used in crimes, Massachusetts is in the import business.

The Boston Globe reports today that of the 1,020 firearms used in crimes last year in Massachusetts that could be traced to their state of origin, just 351, or slightly more than one-third, came from Massachusetts. The Globe uses the figure to show how porous state borders are when it comes to gun movement, and to point out that restrictive state gun laws — Massachusetts has among the strongest in the country — cannot keep people from acquiring firearms across state lines.

It would seem to be a potent argument to pose to US Sen. Scott Brown, who has stood by his support for a Massachusetts ban on assault weapons while a member of the state Legislature, but who opposes efforts to renew a lapsed federal ban, saying the matter should be left to individual states.

Much of the hand-wringing over guns following the July 20 massacre of 12 people and wounding of 58 at a Colorado movie theatre has focused on assault weapons, which authorities say were part of the arsenal used by the shooter. As stiff as the resistance is to a renewal of the federal assault weapons ban, the fact that the debate is over renewal of a measure that lapsed in 2004 at least points out that such a restriction had once been approved. The idea of stronger federal laws controlling handguns, on the other hand, seems entirely out of the question. But it is such “everyday” weaponry that is used in the vast majority of shootings in this country.

It is inevitable that a mass shooting like the one in Aurora gets lots of attention. Its scale and random occurrence while people were out enjoying a Friday night movie jar our sense of invulnerability. But it is the much more steady pulse of daily gun violence, taking a victim here a couple of others there, that ought to stir public outrage. In Boston, which has a much lower rate of gun crime that other major cities, as of July 22, 14 people had been killed this year with firearms — two more than died in Aurora —  while there had been 111 nonfatal shootings.

Sadly, given the level of gun violence in the US, such a record of carnage practically qualifies as a success story.

                                                                                                                                                            –MICHAEL JONAS


House Speaker Robert DeLeo tells Keller@Large any changes to the so-called “three strikes” bill would gut the law’s intent and says he has enough support in the House to override a veto by Gov. Deval Patrick. Meanwhile, Les Gosule will lobby lawmakers today to pass the bill, named after his daughter Melissa who was raped and murdered by a paroled criminal. Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr raises the real concern of the bill’s supporters, that time is short.

An energy bill conference committee, at loggerheads over a provision benefiting a proposed natural gas plant on the site of the existing coal-fired plant in Salem, resolves the dispute by appointing a task force (see Section 42 of bill) to come up with ways for the state to help decommission the old plant. The provision was the focus of a recent CommonWealth Back Story.

The Herald argues that a softening casino market, combined with “a gaffe-athon” Gaming Commission, will raise new doubts about casino gambling in Massachusetts.

The top posts at the MBTA and Massport are still vacant after a year, CommonWealth reports.


The Eagle-Tribune takes another dig at Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua, who took a week off to go to the Dominican Republic with his girlfriend to attend a wedding. The paper seems amazed the city survived since Lantigua, his girlfriend, and the groom are all city employees.

Lynn paid out $9.2 million in longevity pay to city workers last year, the Item reports.

Fitchburg temporarily mothballs its money-losing incinerator as it mulls expensive repairs to the facility. It was a costly incinerator project that drove Harrisburg, Pennsylvania into bankruptcy.


An analysis of campaign contributions by the New Bedford Standard Times shows Sen. Scott Brown far outpacing Elizabeth Warren in the South Coast region, though the Warren campaign says that doesn’t include contributions under $200, which don’t have to be itemized.

Sixteen Massachusetts backers of Ron Paul who were elected as delegates to the national GOP convention have filed a protest over their subsequent exclusion, saying in a letter to the national party that the Massachusetts Republican Party “changed the rules” after the Paul backers unexpectedly defeated Mitt Romney supporters in the April caucuses.

Even global politics is local: Mitt Romney traveled to Jerusalem to outline his strong support for Israel, but a major target for his speech was Dorchester native and casino zillionaire Sheldon Adelson and other wealthy US Jews his campaign is wooing. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg explains why some might regard the carnival that Romney set off at the Western Wall the latest misstep of his overseas trip. Romney will be in Poland today, a stop that could be valuable, says National Journal’s Rebecca Kaplan — in swing states.

The New York Times weighs the risks in the Obama campaign’s sharp negative turn.


The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration is undertaking an extensive survey of the commercial fishing industry along the East Coast to gauge the socio-economic impact of fishing regulations.


The Globe’s Robert Weisman looks at the academic medical firepower in Boston that is leading pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and other drug companies to locate research centers in the Hub.


The Worcester and the Metro West RTAs are trying to come up with a bus transfer plan that makes sense for people commuting to the state’s second largest metro area.


Protesters plan another round of demonstrations at the New England governors-eastern Canadian premiers summit in Burlington, Vermont. Among their targets are environmental issues such as oil pipelines and the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

The Solarize Mass program is generating interest in Lenox and Pittsfield. Check out CommonWealth’s story on the initiative.

An appeals court overturns Pennsylvania’s statewide zoning for natural gas drilling, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.


There’s been a rash of church break-ins recently in Middleboro, Marion and Mansfield.


WBUR’s Radio Boston analyzes how rival WGBH’s acquisition of Public Radio International will affect public radio listeners.

The Twitterverse dumps on NBC’s coverage of the Olympics.