Cindy FriedmanFriedman

State Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) has joined her colleagues in the states Senate to pass An Act to sensibly address firearm violence through effective reform — the SAFER Act — to increase firearm safety in the state without infringing on the rights of gun owners.

Following a thorough debate amongst members on the Senate floor, the bill passed 37 to 3 on Feb. 1. It includes an amendment proposed by Friedman on mental health and gun licensing, according to a news release from her office. As a version of the bill had already passed in the House, the Senate and House will now reconcile differences between the versions.

The omnibus legislation, S.2572, was introduced following extensive testimony at a November hearing of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, where members of the public provided more than four hours of testimony on more than 50 gun-safety bills before the committee. Led by Majority Leader Cynthia Stone Creem, the bill’s passage follows months of discussions which included stakeholders and advocates with diverse perspectives on the issue.

Highlights of the bill can be found at cindyfriedman.org/saferact. The Senate’s bill garnered support from the state attorney general, gun-violence prevention advocates, district attorneys and police chiefs.

“The Supreme Court’s repeal of gun-safety policies in recent years, in tandem with a drastic rise in gun violence nationwide, makes it impossible for us to ignore this momentwe must take meaningful action on this critical issue,” said Friedman, who is vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This legislation will implement effective reforms by updating our gun laws to mirror federal definitions and standards and strengthening our red flag laws to better support public safety personnel and those at risk of harm to themselves or others. It will set new standards and guidelines for licensing based on recent court decisions and bring new tools to address the increasing problem of illegal gun and ghost gun possession. This will result in a safer Commonwealth overall for our residents and law enforcement officers.”

Bill prohibits ghost guns, assault weapons

The bill includes the following gun-safety policies:

  • Ghost Guns. Updates the state’s laws to bring Massachusetts in line with national standards and to ensure accountability and oversight for those who own and possess un-serialized and untraceable firearms.
  • Assault Weapons. Codifies the state's existing prohibition on assault weapons and copies or duplicates of those weapons, to ensure that  residents are kept safe from weapons of war.
  • Glock Switches and Trigger Activators. Makes it illegal to possess devices that convert semi-automatic firearms into fully automatic machine guns.
  • Inspections of Gun Dealers. Ensures that gun dealers are inspected annually and allows the Massachusetts State Police to conduct those inspections if a local licensing agency does not or cannot do so.
  • Red Flag Law and Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO). Allows health care professionals to petition courts to remove firearms and licenses from patients who pose a risk to themselves or others. The bill also allows preemptive orders to prevent a dangerous individual from obtaining a license to carry a firearm.
  • Harassment Prevention Orders. Protects survivors of harassment by requiring courts to compel the surrender of firearms by individuals who are subject to harassment protection orders who pose an immediate threat.
  • Sensitive Places. Prohibits the carry of firearms in government administrative buildings, with exceptions for law enforcement officers and municipalities that choose to opt out.
  • Mental Health and Gun Licensing. Ensures that firearm licensing authorities have access to certain information about an applicant’s history of involuntary mental health hospitalizations due to posing a serious harm — with appropriate safeguards to guarantee privacy and due process. The Senate adopted an amendment filed by Friedman that would align the legislation with current statute and include Advanced Practice Registered Nurses in the list of qualified health care providers that can attest to an applicant’s history of hospitalizations.
  • Data Collection. Creates a more robust data reporting and analysis mechanism for guns used in crimes, suicides and attempted suicides to ensure that the commonwealth can better target training and enforcement efforts.
  • Gun Industry Accountability in Advertising. Prohibits the marketing of unlawful firearm sales to minors and allows industry actors to be held civilly liable if such marketing practices lead to an individual being harmed.
  • Firing at a Dwelling. Creates a criminal charge for intentionally firing a firearm at a dwelling or other building in use.
  • Community Violence Prevention. Creates a commission to analyze the allocation of state violence prevention funding and recommend changes to reduce gun violence in disproportionately impacted communities; develops a pilot program to promote gun-safety awareness and firearms licensing education; and establishes a task force to make recommendations for maximizing federal funding for gun violence prevention in the most equitable way.
  • Emerging Firearm Technology. Establishes a commission to study emerging firearm technology, with a particular focus on products and features that could increase safety.

Along with Friedman’s amendment, during debate the Senate adopted several amendments related to the legislation, including:

  • Providing more access to the department of public health of gun crime data to ensure gun violence is treated as the public health issue it is.
  • Creating a commission to better understand data around gun violence to help get to the root of gun violence crimes.
  • Providing information on suicide prevention to individuals taking firearm safety and hunter safety courses.
  • Creating a voluntary do-not-sell firearm database to allow individuals who worry they are a threat to themselves or others to voluntarily exclude themselves from having the ability to purchase firearms.

Dec. 20, 2023: Friedman reviews '23, touts drug-cost effort

This news announcement was published Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, based on information in a news release from Stephen Acosta, communications director for Friedman. YourArlington volunteer Kim Haase prepared it for publication.