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On guns, Massachusetts takes aim at Florida for lax restrictions

Elected officials plan to unveil a billboard contrasting the guns laws in Massachusetts and Florida, drawing attention to Florida's unfettered access to assault weapons.
Massachusetts Road Sign
Massachusetts Road Sign
Published Oct. 29, 2018

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Boston Police Commissioner William Gross and Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders are among the public officials who plan to unveil a billboard this week in Boston that will contrast Massachusetts gun laws with those in Florida.

"The billboard aims to compare the effective gun laws in Massachusetts with the lax dangerous gun laws in Florida, particularly Florida's lack of criminal background checks as well as unregulated and unrestricted access to assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines," Stop Handgun Violence said in an advisory.

The billboard, which will be unveiled Thursday, was designed by artist Manuel Oliver, the father of 17-year-old Joaquin Oliver, who was killed during the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

John Rosenthal of Stop Handgun Violence said that as a Massachusetts gun owner, he "can comply easily with all of our gun laws" but said it's "virtually impossible for any one state or city to effectively address gun violence" until Congress changes federal gun laws.

Rosenthal said guns transported across state lines are often used in urban crime, with such violence taking a heavy toll on neighborhoods and families.

After a 24-year-old woman last week became the eighth person killed by gun violence in less than two weeks in Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh blasted the state's gun laws for "getting kind of soft," and suggested he would look to Massachusetts lawmakers to get tougher and perhaps revisit gun possession laws.

"I know we want to decriminalize a lot of offenses and I agree with that and I think that there are a lot of cases where we should look at, instead of incarceration, treatment, but in some of these gun cases we might need to go tougher with them. I think we need to start holding people accountable who have access to these guns," Walsh said.

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