The politics of guns

Beacon Hill moved closer to passing a new gun control law on Thursday, but not before once again scaling back the proposed legislation to appease the concerns of firearm owners and their representatives.

The Senate approved a broad bill to reduce firearm violence after voting 28-10 to remove a provision that would have given police chiefs the same discretion in approving permits for rifles and shotguns that they have now for handguns. Sen. James Timilty, a Democrat from Walpole, said he feared the provision might violate the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.

 

Officials from the National Rifle Association and the Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts hailed the removal of the provision, while Janet Goldenberg, one of the leaders of the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, said the Senate’s action was disappointing.

“It’s a shame to think that the gun lobby has that kind of influence in Massachusetts,” she told the Globe.

Massachusetts is widely viewed as a state receptive to strong gun control measures — nearly half of state residents favor more strict laws — but the jockeying over some of the provisions in the firearm legislation shows that, even in the Bay State, gun advocates still wield considerable clout.

The pedigree of the pending legislation couldn’t have been stronger. House Speaker Robert DeLeo filed the initial bill after building support for its changes by tapping a panel of experts that offered 44 recommendations. DeLeo then took the bill into the Legislature’s Public Safety Committee and barely got it out on a 7-6 vote, with Timilty, the Senate chairman of the panel, voting against the measure. The narrow vote prompted DeLeo to tweak the legislation, and then the bill sailed through the House.

But over in the Senate, generally considered the more liberal of the two chambers, the provision giving local police chiefs more discretion in handing out licenses was soundly defeated. Sen. Michael Moore of Millbury filed the amendment and it had the backing of Democratic Sens. Michael Barrett of Lexington, Barry Finegold of Andover, Brian Joyce of Milton, Mark Montigny of New Bedford, Marc Pacheco of Taunton, and the heir apparent as Senate President, Stanley Rosenberg of Amherst. The no votes came from the hard-core liberals, including Democratic Sens. William Brownsberger of Belmont, Sonia Chang-Diaz of Boston, Cynthia Stone Creem of Newton, James Eldridge of Acton, Thomas McGee of Lynn, and Daniel Wolf of Harwich.

The House and Senate versions of the bill now go to a conference committee where lawmakers from both chambers will resolve their differences. The House measure contains the provision that the Senate deleted.

BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

CommonWealth explains how House Speaker Robert DeLeo became an unindicted coconspirator at the trial of former Probation commissioner John O’Brien and two of his top aides.

Joan Vennochi suggests some of DeLeo’s House underlings who flipped from their previous votes and went along with his support for casinos would be happy to see the law repealed — but are unlikely to speak out on the issue and embarrass him.

Kristen Hughes, chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party, and Mara Dolan, a Democrat on the Massachusetts State Committee, debate US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s treatment of Speaker DeLeo.

Gov. Deval Patrick continues his push for Massachusetts to provide temporary haven to several hundred children fleeing Central America. The Berkshire Eagle argues that President Obama should get the funds needed to deal with the current problem.

Planned Parenthood head Marty Walz is no shrinking violet.

The Boston Business Journal argues that the $1 billion expansion of South Boston’s convention center sailed through the Legislature on the back of “weak statistics, special interests and limited debate.”

The Christian Science Monitor analyzes the new buffer zone legislation.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera launches a street cleaning blitz in Lawrence using 25 temporary Department of Public Works employees, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

New England Public Radio interviews CommonWealth’s Gabrielle Gurley about Pittsfield City Hall and affirmative action.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

A judge overturns Florida’s gay marriage ban, Governing reports.

The Chris Christie “Bridgegate” investigation seems to be going nowhere as the New Jersey governor’s political popularity rises, the Daily Beast reports.

John McCain says the Republican Party has to pass immigration reform to have a chance of defeating Hillary Clinton, Time reports.

ELECTIONS

A new Boston Globe poll shows Martha Coakley’s lead in a hypothetical November matchup against Charlie Baker slipping, with the two now in a statistical tie. John Nucci wonders aloud about the possibility of Steve Grossman running negative ads against Coakley in the Democratic primary.

Baker’s campaign has released three years of tax returns, which show the presumed GOP gubernatorial nominee and former health care executive averaged nearly $750,000 in annual income over that period.

Meanwhile, Coakley discusses the unaccompanied immigrant children controversy.

Democrats — and Republicans — like to see Sen. Elizabeth Warren hit the campaign trail for candidates across the country, WBUR reports.

US Rep. John Tierney is taking heat from his challengers for not doing more to stem the tide of immigrant children swamping many cities, the Gloucester Times reports.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Worker walkout averted in Demoulas feud at Market Basket, the Eagle-Tribune reports. The Sun reports a walkout is planned for Friday.

EDUCATION

Joanna Weiss says Pioneer Institute and its director Jim Stergios are better than their sometimes less-than-thoughtful campaign against new Common Core education standards has shown. Last summer’s CommonWealth featured Argument & Counterpoint essays on Common Core from state education commissioner Mitchell Chester and Stergios.

HEALTH CARE

The state’s Health Policy Commission raises more concerns about the agreement Attorney General Martha Coakley crafted with Partners HealthCare on the acquisition of South Shore Hospital and two Hallmark hospitals in Medford and Wakefield, CommonWealth reports. WBUR’s report is here. Lahey Health chief executive Howard Grant chews on the Partners controversy on Greater Boston.

Former Beth Israel Deaconess chief executive Paul Levy takes on Gary Gottlieb, the CEO of Partners.

The Patriot Ledger reminds parents not to leave kids locked in cars during the summer.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The New York Times highlights the sharp cuts in carbon emissions Minnesota has driven “not painlessly, but without breaking much of a sweat.”