Gov. Baker signs ‘red flag’ law


A bill that was lobbied for by a seasonal Martha’s Vineyard resident, as well as some of the Island’s young activists, was signed into law on Tuesday by Gov. Charlie Baker, according to the State House News Service.

Baker signed the extreme-risk protection order (ERPO), which has also been called the “red flag” bill, into law, allowing family members to petition the courts to suspend gun ownership rights if a person is believed to be a danger. Proponents of the bill said it’s a common-sense addition to the Bay State’s tough gun laws, particularly in light of recent mass shootings, including the murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Janet Goldenberg, who has a seasonal home in Oak Bluffs, is a leader with the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, the organization that pushed for passage of the red flag law. Island students have also been vocal in calling for changes in the gun laws.

“I do believe we’re probably the only state in the country that’s both outlawed bump stocks and passed an ERPO legislation, which says that even in a state like ours — which has made tremendous progress on this issue — when there’s more to do, we do it, and we do it in a way that gives everybody a chance to be heard,” Baker said before signing the law, according to the State House News Service.

In a statement emailed to The Times, Goldenberg praised the governor and other legislative leaders, including Rep. Marjorie Decker, Rep. David Linsky, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate Majority Leader Cindy Creem, and Senate President Harriette Chandler.

“This bill is a reasonable measure narrowly tailored to give families a mechanism to intervene before a tragedy occurs, by having guns removed from a loved one in narrow circumstances,” Goldenberg said. “As Governor Baker said at the bill signing, Massachusetts is now the only state that has outlawed bump stocks and enacted a red flag bill. This bill will protect the public and save lives. And it is not by accident that Massachusetts has the lowest rate of gun deaths in the country. It is because of our leadership’s willingness to pass sensible gun-safety measures that protect the public while respecting the rights of lawful gun owners. Recent research shows that 97 percent of gun licenses applied for in Massachusetts are granted — it is in that tiny 3 percent denied that guns are kept out of the wrong hands and lives are saved. This bill is a natural extension of that concept, which is already working so well in Massachusetts.”

The new law creates a penalty — a fine between $2,500 and $5,000, up to 2½ years in jail, or both, for anyone who files for an ERPO with information they know is “materially false or with an intent to harass the respondent.”

Gun advocates have criticized Baker, including Republican candidate for governor Scott Lively, who called the new law “an extreme risk to Second and Fourth Amendment rights,” the news service reported.