Recently a representative of the Ma State Police contacted all state firearm instructors about participating in adding suicide prevention to the class curriculum. I will get back to that in a moment.

The House of representatives drafted and voted/passed gun control bill 4420 last year that, in its entirety, for anyone reading it, was unconstitutional on many levels. It was so bad that Law Enforcement all over the state openly said that if it was enacted, that they would not enforce it. The bill was forwarded to the state Senate, where they should have abandoned the the bill completely. Instead, the Senate decided to try to make it more palatable to law enforcement by toning it down somewhat. It will remain unconstitutional on many levels, just not quite as much so.

The revised bill is supposed to be voted on and enacted sometime this year, (2024) before the legislature takes its recess. That being said, the curriculum firearm instructors currently give will dramatically change. And in my opinion, not for the better. I will get back to that in a moment.

Now, back to the suicide prevention that instructors are being asked to consider addressing in their classes. Firearms instructors are being asked to become quasi mental health professionals. When a class is given, and the information involving current laws, and longer standing firearm safety practices explained, no one can know for sure what is in the hearts and minds of people, or what circumstances may impact them in the future to cause them to harm themselves or others. That is well beyond the purview/control of any class or firearm instructor.

A question arises, if someone who takes a class, and down the road at some point in the future unfortunately kills himself, will the firearm instructor be held liable? Will the family of the suicide victim hold the state liable? Or both?

Part of the bill being considered by the Senate now, is that people must shoot during the class. That is not currently a requirement for good cause/reason, liability. The police will not issue a firearm license in Ma without first doing a lengthy background check, this can take on average 4 months. They do this to make sure a person is a ‘good’ responsible person. Firearm instructors do not have the ability/authority to vet people by doing background checks, yet the legislature somehow thinks that it would be a good idea for instructors to hand unvetted people firearms to shoot as part of a class. If the person is injured somehow, who will be held liable? The state or the firearm instructor? Or both? If made mandatory, it has LIABILITY in capital letters written all over it.

Or worse, we cannot know what is in someone’s heart, their intensions may be to get a firearm to shoot themselves or everyone around them in a terrorist inspired act. Who is liable? Having unvetted people shooting as part of the class not only endangers the instructor(s), but everyone in the class. Our representatives certainly/obviously did not think this through. The way it is currently is much safer for instructors and the public. In my opinion.

Law Enforcement takes an oath, in part they swear to uphold the public trust, they also swear to uphold the Constitution. One cannot be disregarded without disregarding both. This concept seems lost on politicians as a whole.

Mark Shean

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