There will be seven Democratic names on the Tuesday, Oct. 15 ballot. They are Sen. William Brownsberger, Sen. Katherine Clark, Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, Martin Long, Paul Maisano, Rep. Carl Sciortino and Sen. Karen Spilka.
Patch asked each of the candidates a series of questions. The answers to those questions will be published now through Sunday, Oct. 13. Long did not respond to Patch's request.
Today's report focuses on gun control.
In January 2013, President Obama presented his plan to prevent gun violence in the U.S. It includes:
- improving the background check system
- banning assault weapons and large capacity magazines of ammunition
- creating and enforcing stricter trafficking laws
A survey after the Tuscon, AZ. shooting, had 49 percent of Americans in favor of protecting the right for individuals to own guns, while 46% say it is more important to control gun ownership.
The nation continues to be split on the issue since.
Sadly after the shooting in Newtown Ct., the nation was again focused on gun control; and since then even more shootings have happened, including the one at the U.S. Navy Yard recently.
Patch asked: "Where do you stand on gun control?"
Koutoujian: "When I came to the State House in 1997, I began my career standing strong on issues that were the right thing to do. I made my maiden speech on the floor of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in support of stronger gun control measures. I spoke then about the billboard on the Mass Pike behind Fenway Park, that still stands there today, about what gun violence means in America. Today, that billboard looks lightly different, but the message is the same. It recognizes the 54 children who die from gun violence every week. Since 2010, that’s over 8,000 children.
The level of gun violence in the United States is startling: 32 Americans are killed with guns everyday, 140 are treated for gun-related injuries and 45 are shot accidentally. Ensuring that our communities remain safe places to live, work and raise our families is of the utmost importance to me, and is why I support common sense measures to prevent gun violence.
Ban on Assault Weapons/High Capacity Magazines : I believe we must reinstate the ban on assault weapons; these types of military style weapons have no place in our society. In addition, we should place a ban on the sale of high capacity magazines; no responsible gun owner needs a weapon that shoots 100 bullets a minute.
Universal Background Checks : In 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) traced 1,000 guns used in crimes in Massachusetts. Of those, only 35% were purchased in the Commonwealth; a staggering 65% were purchased outside our borders. We cannot continue allowing guns from states with weaker gun control laws to flood Massachusetts’ streets; we must pass federal legislation to institute universal background checks. There is no doubt gun violence will decrease if we institute universal background checks for all firearm sales. An Obama Administration survey found that only 12% of inmates who used a gun in a crime acquired it at an establishment requiring a background check. Requiring background checks for sales made at gun shows, online, and by private sellers will ensure our public safety by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and those who should not have access to weapons.
Greater Access to Mental Health Services: Finally, a critical component in our efforts to reduce gun violence is providing greater access to mental health services. While at the State House I was a strong proponent of expanding our mental health services, because I understand the need for greater access to screening and treatment. As we look to expand the services available I believe we must concentrate our efforts on early identification and intervention."Clark: "It’s outrageous that even the most commonsense gun safety measure – universal background checks – is held hostage by the NRA’s influence in Washington. But I’m not willing to accept that this is they way things have to be. When I worked in Colorado, the NRA tried to make it legal to carry a concealed weapon without approval from local police, and a 'Make My Day' law was proposed that was much like the controversial Stand Your Ground laws. I helped put together a coalition of law enforcement, district attorneys, victims of gun violence and others to successfully defeat the NRA. It’s time to do the same in Congress. The first step is background checks, including closing the gun show loophole. Then we must reinstate the assault weapons ban, ban high-capacity magazine clips and mandate gun safety technology."
Brownsberger: "I support strong gun control. In Massachusetts, we have strong gun laws that require vetting and licensing of all potential gun owners and limit possession of guns to licensees. However, the federal system is much looser -- it does not require licensing and does not even, in every instance, require background checks before transfers. I support moving federal law closer towards the Massachusetts system.
My top priority is background checks before all transfers. I also support a national assault weapons ban, and a ban on large capacity ammunition magazines."
Spilka: "With far too many families and children becoming victims to gun violence, Congress cannot continue to be intimated by the NRA gun lobby. It's too easy for dangerous people to get powerful, military-style weapons that were designed to kill as many people as possible in seconds, putting our kids and even our police officers at risk.
I support expanding mandatory federal background checks, a federal ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines and a federal ban on assault weapons. I’m proud of the work we are doing here in Massachusetts to expand background checks, limit access to high capacity weapons and improve the firearms identification card (FID) system.
And I have been a champion in Massachusetts for increasing funds and improving programs for better provision of mental health services as a preventative approach as well."
Sciortino: "While the 2nd Amendment gives citizens the right to bear arms, it does not grant the right to walk into a school with a semi-automatic weapon or make our students unsafe. We need rational gun safety laws that will prevent future instances of gun violence.
First and foremost, closing the gun show loophole to ensure that background checks are performed for anyone purchasing a weapon is a common-sense must. It should not be easier to obtain a weapon than a driver’s license. We must also limit high-capacity magazines, which have no use except as instruments for those who seek to do harm.
In addition to stronger gun safety legislation, we need to move from a system of incarceration to a system of mental health treatment, which will help deter future crime and gun violence.
I am a co-sponsor of a comprehensive gun control law in the Massachusetts House and would cosponsor similar legislation in Congress. I have supported funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment programs. I have also filed a bill to institute a moratorium on the construction of new jails and prisons. We need to keep the pressure on alternatives to incarceration, such as treatment, and break the cycle of recidivism."Maisano: "I support the Constitution until changed. I further endorse expanded background checks. In particular, when it comes to the section on mental illness. The section on mental illness must be verifiable through medical a sign off. Any applicant found to be lying on the application should be barred from re-applying for life. Renewal of any license must be accompanied by at least 10 hours of certifiable classroom and range re-education every five years cycle. Occasionally, people forget required procedural responsibility."