Baker is bystander, not leader, on gun legislation

At every turn, he has chosen to remain on sidelines

VOTERS NEED TO KNOW Charlie Baker is not a gun violence prevention leader.

Everytown for Gun Safety recently endorsed Baker in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race, calling Baker a leader on gun violence prevention. We, student organizers from March For Our Lives: Boston, strongly disagree.

After the Parkland shooting, many lawmakers spoke out in favor of Extreme Risk Protective Order legislation. But Baker remained silent. It wasn’t until he faced growing pressure from youth and adult gun violence prevention advocates that he signed the protective order bill.

Baker had the opportunity to join the gun reform movement when we staged school walkouts across the state on March 14 that ended at the Massachusetts State House, where we lobbied senators and representatives. He did not show up to his office that day.

We tried again to engage with him when we invited him to the March For Our Lives rally at the Boston Common. He declined. This August, we marched with the 50 Miles More campaign from Worcester to Springfield, where we urged Smith & Wesson to cease production of weapons outlawed under the 2004 Massachusetts assault weapons ban. Baker did not join us.

Baker has had opportunities at every turn to take the lead on gun violence prevention, but he has chosen to remain on the sidelines. Only after gun reform legislation passed both the Massachusetts House and Senate was he willing to make a statement of support for the protective order bill, as he signed it into law.

Simply signing a bill into law does not make a good leader. He needs to be an active advocate for gun violence prevention and gun safety. Credit given to Baker is merely appropriating the hard work of gun violence prevention advocacy groups. He does not deserve the credit for a simple signature that was only brought on by ongoing public pressure.

Everytown’s endorsement is even more disappointing because Baker’s opponent, Jay Gonzalez is a strong advocate and ally to gun violence prevention. Part of his policy plan includes the reinstatement of the federal assault weapons ban, promotion of “smart gun” technologies that prevent a gun’s use by anyone other than its owner, and investment in community programs that decrease the likelihood of gun violence. Gonzalez has a full page dedicated to gun violence prevention on his website. Baker’s site does not include the word gun once.

Even worse, Baker appointed Ronald Amidon, then-president of the Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts, as commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game. As Baker made this appointment, the gun owners league was suing Attorney General Maura Healey for her enforcement of the copycat provisions of the 2004 Massachusetts assault weapons ban. Healey eventually won, and it was decided that the copycat enforcement did not infringe on the Second Amendment. Baker has also endorsed the entire GOP ticket this year, including Geoff Diehl, a candidate for the United States Senate who is endorsed by the NRA.

While Baker might have a D rating from the NRA, he has shown time and time again where his loyalties lie, and they don’t lie with us. Baker has not been a leader or an advocate, but a bystander. He continually chooses to stay silent on issues of gun violence until pressed by his constituents to take action.

Meet the Author

March For Our Lives: Boston

March For Our Lives: Boston, Student advocacy group on gun violence presention
So, before the election, please take a closer look at whether Baker is actually representing us, or just doing the bare minimum. If voters do re-elect him, let’s keep him accountable by contacting the governor’s office and demanding that he host at least four town halls a year, take a no-NRA-money pledge, and revoke Emadom’s appointment as commissioner of Fish and Game.

Several members of March For Our Lives: Boston helped write this article, but the lead writer was Vikiana Petit-Homme, executive director of the organization and a student at Boston Latin Academy.