By Lisa Green, North End mom and Co-Chair of Downtown Progressives.

How Can Massachusetts Take Action on Gun Violence? A group will host a forum at the Nazzaro Center on Monday, April 30 at 6:30 p.m.

Living here in deep-blue Massachusetts, we can sometimes feel like the debates about gun control that take place around the country after tragedies like Parkland don’t apply to us. After all, we’ve got some of the strongest gun laws in the nation—and, as a result, some of the lowest gun death statistics in the nation.

But right here in Massachusetts alone, it’s estimated that over 700 people have been killed by gunfire since 2014, the year our landmark gun control laws were passed. Even with our best-in-the-nation gun control laws, that’s still about double number of people who were killed by guns in the whole of Canada over the same period of time, a country with six times our population. That’s simply unacceptable.

Photo Credit: Jason McGorty

As a parent, I wholeheartedly appreciate the efforts of our elected officials that got us this far—but for the safety of my children and everyone who lives here in the Commonwealth, we need them to continue to lead on this critical issue. The way I see it, it’s time we stop asking ourselves the relatively comforting question, “Are we doing better than other states?”, and ask the tougher question: “Are we doing all we can do to prevent gun violence in Massachusetts?” On that, the answer is clearly: no.

One common-sense thing that we can do now, is to pass laws that would keep guns out of the hands of people suffering from acute mental illness. You may have heard about “Red Flag” laws that states have been passing in the wake of the Parkland mass shooting. Massachusetts’ version of a red flag law is called an Extreme Risk Protective Order, or ERPO, and it would allow a judge to order the temporary removal of guns from someone ruled a danger to themselves or others.

The ERPO bill currently pending at the state house represents a reasonable, common-sense approach to reduce gun violence and helps redirect at-risk individuals to counseling and assistance. It follows the basic framework of the laws that are already in place to protect against domestic violence and extends those protections to individuals at risk of suicide or committing mass shootings like Parkland, or last week’s Waffle House shooting in Tennessee. Gov. Rick Scott recently made Florida the sixth state to pass such a law, and similar bills are now pending in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

Like many of you, I’d like to see Charlie Baker do the same thing to protect us here in Massachusetts. How can we make sure that happens?

Use our voices.

An editorial in last week’s Globe credited the activism of students and families for getting Massachusetts’ ERPO bill this far, and urges continued activism to get the bill passed before this legislative session ends in less than three months.

How Can Massachusetts Take Action on Gun Violence? As part of the state-wide effort to get the ERPO bill across the finish line, Downtown Progressives is hosting a forum, on Monday, April 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Nazzaro Center.

Angus McQuilken, longtime gun control advocate from the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence will frame what’s at stake in the ERPO debate underway at the State House, and answer your questions. Then organizers from Downtown Progressives will share the quick, practical steps you can take to make sure your legislators know that keeping Massachusetts kids safe will always be a priority for you.

Massachusetts must continue to lead while inaction in Washington leaves our children, schools, and communities vulnerable—and only you can help make sure that the political will is there to do it. We hope that you can join us on Monday!

Lisa Green is a North End Mom and co-chair of Downtown Progressives, a new local chapter of Progressive Massachusetts for the downtown neighborhoods. Downtown Progressives’ monthly meetings bring experts on timely issues to the North End, so that you can hear from people working on timely issues in Massachusetts, ask them questions and learn how you can get involved. Each meeting ends with an opportunity for you to get involved, at whatever level fits your schedule and comfort level. Meet neighbors who share your values and build your skill as an advocate for the causes you care about.

The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence is a coalition of over 50 organizations and institutions across MA to end the epidemic of gun violence that plagues our communities and takes the lives of so many of our citizens.

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