Lawyers, guns, and money

Four gun measures are slated to be voted on today by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the votes will give some clues as to the fate of tougher gun control laws in Congress as both sides claim growing support for their views.

The horror of the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 6- and 7-year-olds in Newtown, Connecticut, in December shaking the nation to its core. Many thought the momentum had finally swung to push lawmakers to ban assault weapons and add some beef to background-check regulations and the sale and possession of guns. The White House is leading the charge for changes in federal gun laws. Even notorious graffiti artist Shepard Fairey designed a controversial new T-shirt with the proceeds going to support gun control groups.

Yet even though it’s been only a few short months, it seems the memory of Sandy Hook is beginning to fade and the gun supporters lobby has found its legs and voice once again. The pro-gun lobby retains its powerful standing and many think it will mute aggressive gun control measures.

The New York Times has a piece about a little known nonprofit called the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, which arranges shooting contests and wine tastings – hopefully not at the same time – between members of Congress and representatives of the gun industry. Among the biggest recipients of the nonprofit’s largesse are the 250 congressmen who belong to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.

More and more, voters will see studies such as the one featured in the Boston Globe today from the JAMA Internal Medicine journal. Researchers from Children’s Hospital in Boston examined gun-related deaths in all 50 states and concluded those states with stricter gun laws had fewer gun deaths than states with loose regulations. Massachusetts, which most agree has the nation’s toughest gun laws, has a rate of 3.4 gun-related deaths per 100,000 residents, second only to Hawaii. The highest rate was Louisiana, which had 17.9 gun deaths per 100,000 residents. The same story runs out a study from 2000 by Georgetown University researchers that found states with background checks mandated by the Brady Bill had fewer suicide and homicide rates.

In Connecticut, Quinnipiac University released a new poll that showed overwhelming support for tighter gun control laws. Some measures, such as universal background checks, got the support of 89 percent of gun owners. The public support, though, has done little to push forward a bipartisan attempt in the Nutmeg State to enact tighter gun control legislation, despite Connecticut  being the site of one of the country’s bloodiest gun massacres in history.

In Maryland, lawmakers are set to pass one of the country’s strictest gun laws, including provisions barring gun magazines over 10 rounds and banning 45 assault-type weapons. The Maryland proposal has prompted a threat from the nation’s biggest gun manufacturer, Beretta USA, to close its factory there and move its 400 jobs elsewhere if the measure is signed into law. As expected, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has already rolled out his state’s welcome mat.

                                                                    –JACK SULLIVAN

BEACON HILL

In remarks prepared for delivery to a business audience today, House Speaker Robert DeLeo says Gov. Deval Patrick’s transportation plan should be “far more narrow in scope and of a significantly smaller size.” Patrick’s comment that legislators need “political courage” to pass his tax proposal rankled some lawmakers and pleased others in the Lowell area, the Sun reports.

Imprisoned former House speaker Sal DiMasi, weakened by cancer, has lost 50 pounds, suffered bouts of pneumonia, and is being nourished through a feeding tube, his wife Debbie DiMasi tells the Globe in an interview in which she decries the provision of health care in the federal prison system.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Really? Truro decides to put a drawing of a smiling shark on its 2013 beach stickers. A Colorado man was attacked by a great white shark last year at a town beach.

Peabody considers a bylaw to protect trees on municipal property from being cut down under the provisions of an obscure state law, the Salem News reports.

The Board of Bar Overseers declines to discipline former Salisbury police chief David L’Esperance, who left the town amid accusations he traded impounded drugs for sex. Though accused by some of his former officers, he was never tried.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The New Hampshire House gives initial approval to a 15-cent hike in the state’s gasoline tax, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

US Rep. John Tierney walks out of a legislative hearing to protest the refusal of Republicans to take up a bill he filed, the Item reports.

We had us a good, old-fashioned, talk-till-you-drop filibuster in the US Senate on John Brennan’s nomination as head of the CIA, but Sen. Rand Paul’s bladder was apparently not the equal of Jimmy Stewart’s. Gail Collins admires the showing; the Wall Street Journal editorial page does not.

President Obama is courting the GOP rank-and-file in a bid to restart budget talks.

ELECTIONS

Former US attorney Michael Sullivan turned the tables on Democrats by saying he thinks their attacks on him as the GOP frontrunner in the Senate primary race is payback for his successful prosecution of former House speaker Thomas Finneran.  Meanwhile, Sullivan seemed to send mixed signals yesterday on his stand on same-sex marriage.

A new UMass Lowell/Boston Herald poll shows Ed Markey with a substantial lead over Steve Lynch in the Democratic primary match-up for US Senate.

Writing in The Bay State Banner, CommonWealth magazine contributor Kevin Peterson wants to see US Senate candidates address urban poverty and violence and other concerns important to minority communities in cities.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Time profiles Sheryl Sandberg, the ceo of Facebook.

RELIGION

The American congregation of cardinals shut down its daily press briefings over concerns about leaks in the private discussions of who the next pope will be.

EDUCATION

A judge ruled the Diman Regional School Committee in Fall River violated open meeting laws when it voted to hire its outside legal counsel as a full-time employee but later “cured” that violation by revoting to hire him during a public hearing.

School districts are working to implement new regulations aimed at fighting discrimination against transgendered students but officials say the requirement to allow those students to use whichever bathroom they choose goes too far.

Scituate and Hull closed their schools today because of the threatening winter storm. The cancellations put them in the same boat as a number of other districts by pushing the school calendar into the last week of June and threatening a portion of April vacation.

HEALTH CARE

A new survey indicates patients in Massachusetts tend to use the most expensive hospitals, WBUR reports.

South Shore officials support the acquisition of South Shore Hospital by Partners Health Care, the Globe reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Northeast Utilities is not releasing details of the compensation chief executive Thomas May earned in 2012 following its merger with NStar.

The owner of a Buzzards Bay cranberry bog is looking to build four wind turbines on his South Plymouth property and sell the power to neighboring communities. Meanwhile, Falmouth may be forced to pay back $5 million in federal stimulus funds if it decides to decomission its  two wind turbines.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts asks the Supreme Judicial Court to put on hold all of the sentences of inmates whose cases were handled by former state drug lab chemist Annie Dookhan, WBUR reports.

Somerset police arrested a pair of 20-year-old men for a series of car break-ins after one of the men allegedly left a job application he was filling out for Taco Bell inside one of the vehicles they broke into.

MEDIA

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

Karen Andreas is promoted to regional publisher of the Eagle-Tribune Publishing Co., which includes the Eagle-Tribune, the Salem News, the Daily News of Newburyport, the Gloucester Times, and several weeklies and magazines.

Legal movie sales rose after law enforcement shut down Megaupload and Megavideo, two sites for sharing pirated films.