On Dec. 29, a cleaning crew at the McGlynn Elementary and Middle School in Medford found a loaded magazine in the school’s auditorium. The finding went unreported to police until Feb. 16, and parents were not alerted of this until Feb. 20, when Medford Superintendent Roy Belson released a statement. Belson chose not to tell parents at the time because he believed it was an “isolated incident.” School personnel decided to recently disclose the information because of the mass shooting at the Parkland, Fla. high school that killed seventeen. Once the information was relayed to the public, the school was shut down for a day to conduct a full security sweep. Additionally, the School Committee held a professional development day for faculty and staff and a committee meeting to discuss school safety for the community. Parents were outraged that the finding of a loaded magazine went unreported for so long.
Medford Police Chief Leo Sacco has advised for a new protocol to be put in place, such as calling 911 immediately if a weapon, drug or ammunition is found instead of going through the school’s chain of command. Because of the incident, the school superintendent will retire two months earlier than originally planned.
As a whole, Massachusetts has been at the forefront of the fight for gun control. Republican Governor Charlie Baker said that he “would like to see the federal government pursue many of the strategies and the policies that we have here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” Assault weapons are already banned in Massachusetts. Massachusetts also banned bump stocks after the shooting in Las Vegas. The Chief of Police is also able to deny someone from buying a weapon if they deem the person too dangerous. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Massachusetts has the 4th strongest gun laws in the country. Additionally, according to that same source, Massachusetts has the fewest gun deaths per capita out of the entire country.
While Massachusetts is already well into the fight for gun control, there’s still more that can be done. In the state, there is no limit to the number of firearms a person can purchase at a single time. There is no waiting period for purchasing a weapon. Lastly, Massachusetts does not require unlicensed firearm sellers to conduct a background check on anyone buying a weapon. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the majority of guns used in crimes in Massachusetts in 2014 were purchased in other states. While Massachusetts gun laws could still use improvement, it’s evident that federal laws also need to be improved.
On Feb. 28, more than 400 students at Somerville High School staged a walkout to protest “a lack of competent gun control laws across the country.” The students proceeded to bombard the inboxes of state representatives with calls for more gun control. The students plan to turn these into weekly walkouts until the Massachusetts state legislature passes the Extreme Risk Protective Orders, which would allow household members or petitioners to report people with firearms who are an immediate dangers to themselves or others.
To get involved with the fight for gun control, participate in the Tufts University Walkout and Rally to End Gun Violence on March 14th from 10-10:17 a.m.