BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick predicted movement in the Legislature next session on stalled gun control legislation, drawing a distinction between weapons used for sport and hunting and those designed first and foremost for military use.
During his monthly “Ask the Governor” radio appearance, Patrick yesterday also did not take a position on Treasurer Steven Grossman’s review of whether the state should divest its pension fund assets from gun manufacturing corporations, and defended state tax breaks given to Smith & Wesson. The Springfield gun manufacturer is receiving $6 million in tax breaks running from 2010 through 2017 to bring 225 jobs to its headquarters in western Massachusetts.
“I don’t think what they manufacture is sinful. I think it’s about regulating it, again, in the interest of public safety,” Patrick during his morning appearance on WTKK-FM.
Asked about pulling state pension fund investments out of companies that manufacture weapons, the governor said he hadn’t thought about the issue before reading it in the newspaper Wednesday. Though he said he understands why Massachusetts has pulled its investments in companies that do business with Iran, for instance, he said he wasn’t sure such a reaction was necessary in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.
“It’s not like everything that a gun manufacturer makes is evil,” Patrick said.
It has been almost a week since 20-year-old Adam Lanza walked into the school carrying a Bushmaster AR-15 semi-automatic rifle that he used to kill 20 children and six educators after first shooting his mother in their home.
Patrick will participate in a ceremony today at the Garden of Peace on Beacon Hill to observe a moment of silence for the victims of the Newtown shootings.
Patrick said that the gun used by Lanza in the Newtown massacre would be illegal in Massachusetts “with that clip” under the state’s assault weapons ban, but the governor said the state and the federal government should revisit the definitions of assault weapons included in any ban, as well as the types of high-capacity magazines that are permitted for private use. President Obama has called for a federal assault weapons ban that lapsed in 2004 to be renewed.
“We have an assault weapons ban in Massachusetts and that’s a good thing, but you can still buy guns in bulk,” said Patrick, whose 2010 bill limiting gun purchases to one per month failed to win support.
He continued, “The definition really needs to reach all of these military style weapons that are not about sport or hunting but are really about mass killing and destruction. Part of that needs to get to the magazines as well.”