For Immediate Release
Assistant Director: 202-898-0792.
Law Enforcement And Gun Violence Prevention Groups Urge Massachusetts High Court To Uphold Safe Gun Storage Law
WASHINGTON - The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, joined by law enforcement and
other gun violence prevention groups, filed a friend of the court brief
today in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court urging the Court to
uphold a life-saving gun safety law requiring that guns be secured to
prevent accidents and unauthorized use.
The case, Commonwealth v. Runyan, will mark the first
time an appellate court considers a challenge to a safe gun storage law
following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Second Amendment ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller.
The Runyan case involves a government appeal of a lower court ruling
citing the Second Amendment in dismissing an indictment against a
parent who failed to secure a semiautomatic rifle from his severely
handicapped teenage son.
Daniel Vice, Senior Attorney at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun
Violence, commented, “Massachusetts’ safe gun storage law protects
children from gun accidents and is wholly permissible under the Second
Amendment. With nine children and teens killed every day by gun
violence, we must ensure that guns are kept secured from children.”
Former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger and the law
firm Proskauer Rose are representing the Brady Center and other groups
filing the brief pro bono. Mr. Harshbarger stated, “The Court should
uphold Massachusetts’ safe gun storage law, which is one of many
life-saving gun laws that have made Massachusetts one of the safest
states in the nation in terms of gun violence.”
The brief in support of Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone’s
appeal argues that a lower court improperly dismissed an indictment
under Massachusetts’ safe gun storage law, G.L. ch. 140, Section 131L.
This law allows self-defense gun use but requires that firearms be
secured when not carried by or under the control of an owner or
authorized user. The U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller struck
down District of Columbia gun laws that broadly barred handgun
possession and prohibited use of a firearm in the home, even for
self-defense. The Court in Heller, however, specifically
noted that its ruling does not call into question “laws regulating the
storage of firearms to prevent accidents,” such as Massachusetts’ safe
gun storage law.
The brief explains how studies have found a direct correlation between
improper gun storage and accidental shooting deaths, and that
unintentional shooting deaths among children have been reduced by
twenty-three percent in states with safe storage laws. The brief cites
Massachusetts’ long history of legislation keeping citizens safe from
gun violence, including safe gun storage laws dating back to the time
of ratification of the Second Amendment.
The groups on the brief are the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Legal Community Against Violence, Massachusetts Chiefs of Police, Massachusetts Million Mom March Chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and Stop Handgun Violence.
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