Activism

Here is an example of activism by communicating with elected officials on a specific issue. In this case the officials were initially a Republican state senator, and finally forwarded to a Democratic state representative. To read the three messages in chronological order, read the chain from the bottom up.

Subject: Re: Gun Bill
From: Mel and June Michaels
To: ann-margaret.ferrante@mahouse.gov
Cc: Andrew Innes; Anna B. Eves; Beverly Verengia; Bonnie Barrish; Christy Park; Connie Condon; Cynthia Bjorlie; Diane Cartwright; Eileen Matz; Erin Battistelli; Hannah Kimberley; Jan Bell; Joan Cummiskey; Joan Kimberley; Judith Bly; Judy Diamond; Julie Kesterson; Kathryn Lordan; Marge Schernig; Mary McCarl; Michaela Dipersia; Nan Andrew; Patricia Hadley; Sheila Rider; Susan Hand; Alan MacMillan; David McKinnon; Gerri Falco; Lawrence Neal; Rob Claypool; Bethany Brosnan; Bruce Reed; Ed Hand; Lynn Murphy; Mary Ann Lash; Ruth George; Stephen DeMarco; Ann-Patrice Hickey; Betty Ann St. Germain; Carol Gaudette; Carolyn Cronin; David Kearns; David Wise; Ed Chapman; Gerald Maisch; Hildy Feuerbach; James and June McCloy; John Penaloza; Joyce Fossa; Kathleen O’Neill; Lois Lundell; Lynn Chambers; Mallory Duquesne; Martha Morgan; Mary Francis; Mary Jane Kornacki; Maureen Dwinell; Max Levi; Nancy Goodman; Nancy Jo Delaney; Pat Koechlin; Peggy Picard; Rocco Antonelli; Ruth Perrault; Sally Chapdelaine; Seth Yorra; Steve Wood; Suellen Wedmore; Thomas Mikus; Thomas Moses; Tom Delaney; Vernice Gaietto; Barbara Dapolito; Carol Kessler; Carole Pelchat; Carolyn Lee; Clarice Gordon; Judy Deutsch; Launa Zimmaro; Linda Freedman; Linda Freeman; Louise Haldeman; Lynn Wolbarst; Robin Roberge; Susan Abbott; Susan Welby; Terry Yoffie; Diana Canterbury
Date: Sunday, August 7, 2016 2:14 PM

Here is Senator Bruce Tarr’s response to our first email, and our latest response to him.

August 7, 2016

Dear Senator Tarr:

Thank you for your prompt and detailed response to our e-mail regarding your bill, SD2644.

The existing Massachusetts law, as passed in 1994, mirrors the federal law which was not renewed by Congress. It is the only bulwark we in Massachusetts now have against semi-automatic gun sales in our state. It gives the Attorney General the right to regulate “… any of the weapons or replicas or duplicate of such weapons” as defined by the law. Your bill as I read it, will not allow the Attorney General, the chief state law enforcement officer, to perform her constitutional and legislated duties to enforce gun laws as they relate to AK-47s and their replicas. Your bill states “… provided such rules and regulations shall not govern, limit, or otherwise relate to weapons as defined in Section 121 of Chapter 140, the manufacture of weapons or the sale of weapons. Further, that any such rule or regulations having previously been promulgated are hereby repealed.”

If your bill is passed it will entirely remove control of the sale of semi-automatic weapons from the Attorney General. Consequently, it will weaken the ability of local and state law enforcement to protect their citizenry. This could put Massachusetts citizens at the mercy of terrorists as well as the criminal element. Recently, in the news, there have been statements by Isis recruiters boasting that they do not need to put weapons in the hands of those who would kill us. The reason is that Americas’ lax gun laws make it easy for those wishing to commit terrorism to purchase their own weapons. This is not the time to further weaken our gun laws.

As we read the existing law and compare it to your bill, it appears that this is not just a “turf war” between the legislature and the Attorney General. It presents a real danger to the citizens of our state. It may well lead to more innocent deaths and further hinder the ability of our valiant police officers in the performance of their duty as well as putting their lives in even greater jeopardy.

The Attorney General is not making new law. She is only enforcing the law as it was passed by the legislature in the 1994 bill. What has changed is that she is enforcing the entire law, which was not done apparently by those who previously held that office, as is her responsibility. If she did not, she would be negligent to her sworn duties.

The prohibition of the sale of “copy-cat” weapons has always been an important part of the law which is intended to protect our citizens. Your bill would make the Attorney General’s office less effective in keeping us all safe, requiring that “the Attorney General … may request a material change of the definition of assault weapons or weapon as defined in Section 121 of Chapter 140 by filing a petition pursuant to Article XLVIII of the Constitution, which shall include the reasons for such request.” This would require the Attorney General to get legislation passed in order for her to enforce regulations controlling copy-cat assault weapons – which are already prohibited under existing law. The present law protects us. Your proposed changes could put more unregulated military-style weapons on the streets and make all of us less safe.

Incidentally, more than several of the co-sponsors of your bill have gun manufacturing plants in their district. We presume this did not, of course, influence their decision to co-sponsor the bill.

We appreciate that you are willing to take another look at the law. If you cannot withdraw the bill entirely, we await your changes in expectation that your revisions will make it more difficult rather than easier to buy weapons that are a threat to all of us. Quite frankly, we do not see the need for any changes at all in the existing bill. It is your responsibility to help enact legislation that allows all of the citizens of Massachusetts to be safe in our schools, homes and places of employment. We implore you to use this as a guideline in the formulation of any bills you present, now and in the future.

Melvyn and June Michaels


From: Tarr, Bruce E (SEN)
Sent: Wednesday, August 03, 2016 3:01 PM
To: Mel and June Michaels
Cc: Andrew Innes ; Anna B. Eves ; Beverly Verengia ; Bonnie Barrish ; Christy Park ; Connie Condon ; Cynthia Bjorlie ; Diane Cartwright ; Eileen Matz ; Enid Wise ; Erin Battistelli ; Hannah Kimberley ; Jan Bell ; Joan Cummiskey ; Joan Kimberley ; Judith Bly ; Judy Diamond ; Julie Kesterson ; Kathryn Lordan ; Marge Schernig ;Mary McCarl ; Michaela Dipersia ; Nan Andrew ; Nancy Goodman ; Pat Koechlin ; Patricia Hadley ; Ruth Perrault ;Sally Chapdelaine ; Sheila Rider ; Sheila Rider ; Susan Hand ; Thomas Mikus ; Alan MacMillan ; Alan MacMillan ;David McKinnon ; Gerri Falco ; Lawrence Neal ; Mary Ann Lash ; Rob Claypool ; Bethany Brosnan ; Bruce Reed ;Ed Hand ; Lynn Murphy ; Mary Ann Lash ; Philip Crotty ; Ruth George ; Stephen DeMarco ; Ann-Patrice Hickey ;Betty Ann St. Germain ; Carol Gaudette ; Carolyn Cronin ; David Kearns ; David Wise ; Ed Chapman ; Gerald Maisch ; Hildy Feuerbach ; James and June McCloy ; John Penaloza ; Joyce Fossa ; Kathleen O’Neill ; Lois Lundell; Lynn Chambers ; Mallory Duquesne ; Martha Morgan ; Mary Francis ; Mary Jane Kornacki ; Maureen Dwinell ;Max Levi ; Nancy Goodman ; Nancy Jo Delaney ; Pat Koechlin ; Peggy Picard ; Rocco Antonelli ; Ruth Perrault ;Sally Chapdelaine ; Seth Yorra ; Steve Wood ; Suellen Wedmore ; Thomas Mikus ; Thomas Moses ; Tom Delaney ;Vernice Gaietto ; Ferrante, Ann-Margaret – Rep. (HOU) ; Barbara Dapolito
Subject: RE: Gun Bill

Dear Mel and June,

Thank you for your support and partnership over many years, and for always offering your honest, well-reasoned counsel on a wide range of issues. Your recent e-mail message regarding the bill I filed to protect the Second Amendment of the Constitution follows in that tradition and I appreciate it as well.

I suspect that your concerns arise largely from a recent article in the local newspaper which I believe was somewhat misleading. However, the article has caused me to review the legislation from a perspective I did not have before I read it. I do think, however, that a few points need to be clarified at the outset.

First, AK-47 automatic rifles, and similar weapons, have been effectively banned by the federal government since 1934 throughout the country, although some specialized permit holders have been allowed to continue to possess them for particular purposes – sales to military or police organizations etc. Semiautomatic versions of these firearms have been banned in Massachusetts since 1998, and no firearm can be possessed by citizens in our state that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition with the exception of police or military personnel.

Second, the National Rifle Association did not “sponsor” this bill, has not contacted me about the bill, and I am not aware of any NRA involvement with the bill.

Third, I wrote and filed the bill because of concern the actions of the Attorney General, came with little to no notice, affected thousands of Massachusetts residents who have legally purchased firearms, with no notice, no public hearings, and none of the due process which I would hope that all of us would want when a constitutional right is affected. Deeply concerning is the fact that the AG has materially changed the law, and cast those who have abided by the law for nearly 20 years as felons. I do not think that you, as knowledgeable and reasonable people who embrace the rule of law, would find that appropriate.

Fourth, contrary to what has been reported, the bill as written would not “strip” the AG of her enforcement authority. The AG is the chief law enforcement officer of our state, and that authority is unquestionable. It does not; however extend to making law, which, as you know, is the responsibility of the Legislature and the Governor.

That’s why more than eighty legislators (approximately 30 Republicans and 50 Democrats) have questioned the actions of the Attorney General in print, and they include the House and Senate Chairs of the Joint Committee on the on Public Safety and Homeland Security, and the House Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, who are all members of the majority party. They have been joined in expressing concern by Secretary of Public Safety Bennett and Governor Baker. I am attaching copies of some of those letters for your review.

The bill I filed with bi-partisan support is reflective of these concerns and has several basic elements:

  1. To clarify that those who have abided by the law have not committed a felony.
  2. To establish a clearly constitutional method for additional weapons to be added to, or deleted from, the state’s Assault Weapons Ban, which has been in place since 1998, and to prevent changes from being made without due process of law and legislative action.
  3. To increase penalties for those who commit crimes using guns that have not been properly purchased by 5 to 10 years.

Since you have expressed concerns about this bill, I am carefully reviewing it to consider any unintended consequences it may have for public safety. I hope that you will share with me your thoughts on any of its elements that are objectionable from that perspective.

Given the length of our relationship, I am confident that you know the priority that I give to public safety. Massachusetts has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, and I have played an active role in writing many of them, including the 2014 revisions which strengthened their provisions. I continue to believe that firearms should be properly regulated, and am hoping for your customary advice and counsel in that regard

Thank you once again, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Bruce


From: Mel and June Michaels
Sent: Tuesday, August 02, 2016 8:46 PM
To: Tarr, Bruce E (SEN)
Cc: Andrew Innes; Anna B. Eves; Beverly Verengia; Bonnie Barrish; Christy Park; Connie Condon; Cynthia Bjorlie; Diane Cartwright; Eileen Matz; Enid Wise; Erin Battistelli; Hannah Kimberley; Jan Bell; Joan Cummiskey; Joan Kimberley; Judith Bly; Judy Diamond; Julie Kesterson; Kathryn Lordan; Marge Schernig; Mary McCarl; Michaela Dipersia; Nan Andrew; Nancy Goodman; Pat Koechlin; Patricia Hadley; Ruth Perrault; Sally Chapdelaine; Sheila Rider; Sheila Rider; Susan Hand; Thomas Mikus; Alan MacMillan; Alan MacMillan; David McKinnon; Gerri Falco; Lawrence Neal; Mary Ann Lash; Rob Claypool; Bethany Brosnan; Bruce Reed; Ed Hand; Lynn Murphy; Mary Ann Lash; Philip Crotty; Ruth George; Stephen DeMarco; Ann-Patrice Hickey; Betty Ann St. Germain; Carol Gaudette; Carolyn Cronin; David Kearns; David Wise; Ed Chapman; Gerald Maisch; Hildy Feuerbach; James and June McCloy; John Penaloza; Joyce Fossa; Kathleen O’Neill; Lois Lundell; Lynn Chambers; Mallory Duquesne; Martha Morgan; Mary Francis; Mary Jane Kornacki; Maureen Dwinell; Max Levi; Nancy Goodman; Nancy Jo Delaney; Pat Koechlin; Peggy Picard; Rocco Antonelli; Ruth Perrault; Sally Chapdelaine; Seth Yorra; Steve Wood; Suellen Wedmore; Thomas Mikus; Thomas Moses; Tom Delaney; Vernice Gaietto; Ferrante, Ann-Margaret – Rep. (HOU); Barbara Dapolito
Subject: Gun Bill

Dear Senator Tarr:

June and I are liberal Democrats. We have supported you for many years, even though we did not always agree with some of your positions. We appreciate your strong constituent services and the help you have provided in passing laws important to Rockport and the rest of your district. However, your sponsorship and support for an obviously NRA sponsored bill that may cost the lives of our family, our friends and innocent school children has caused us to rethink our support for you. It is THAT important to us.

We accept the fact (for now) that the recent interpretation of the second amendment by the Supreme Court permits a wider distribution of many types of guns. It does, however, allow states to regulate weapons, both in type and with licensing.

You are advocating a new state law that will continue the sale of AK-47 type rapid-firing and deadly long guns. You should be presenting bills that help reduce the number of guns in the hands of criminals, the mentally ill and those who would kill us thinking they are somehow furthering a cause.

We urge you to withdraw the bill and present bills in the future that reduce the number of guns on our streets. This will make it safer for both the citizens of your district and police who face danger every day to protect us all.

Melvyn and June Michaels
Rockport, MA 01966

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