Metro, Politics, Boston

Proposed Ordinance to Examine Gun Manufacturers

Councilor Josh Zakim put forward an ordinance on Wednesday titled the Boston S.T.R.O.N.G. Act, which would require the City of Boston to examine its relationship, and that of Boston’s financial institutions, with firearm manufacturing companies.

The ordinance cites both the national and local crisis of gun violence, as well as the federal government’s lack of response to what Zakim calls a “public health and public safety crisis.”

“The City of Boston should maximize its efforts to reduce gun violence by holding firearm vendors and financial institutions accountable in their policies and practices to effectuate change and promote better public safety in the community,” the ordinance states.

The ordinance will apply to all manufacturers from which the Boston Police Department (BPD) purchases equipment. It lays out six basic guidelines to which gun vendors must adhere. 

According to the ordinance, gun vendors must prevent, detect, and screen for the transfer of firearms to straw purchasers or firearm traffickers; prevent sales to prohibited individuals; protect against theft of firearms and ammunition; train employees and have employment policies to ensure maximum compliance with the law; assist law enforcement in investigations and prevention of criminal access to guns; and promote public safety and responsible firearm ownership. 

The need for the ordinance is “self explanatory,” Zakim said at the meeting on Wednesday. 

“The burden unfortunately is on cities like Boston and states like Massachusetts to take action in the face of ongoing national gun violence due to complete abdication of responsibility by the federal government,” the councilor said.

Zakim noted that the act drew inspiration from Executive Order No. 83, enacted by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, which secures that gun safety measures are being taken by the state’s corporate partners. 

The ordinance will not completely fix the problem of gun violence but views this legislation as an essential first step, Zakim said. Governments are the biggest consumer of guns and public safety equipment in the country, and it is their responsibility to utilize their market influence to certify that weapons vendors and financial institutions operate with basic gun safety practices, according to the councilor. 

Zakim said he wants the institutions the city is doing business with to prevent the sale of firearms to those on watchlists, felons, or people who legally cannot possess a firearm. Additionally, Zakim called for the existence of whistleblower protections if the sale of weapons to people who cannot legally possess a firearm is taking place or being funded by said institutions. 

The information provided by the businesses under the ordinance will allow the city to better understand who it is working with, enabling Boston to utilize its market influence to make sure that those that have contracts with the city are operating in a way that promotes gun safety, Zakim said. 

The Boston S.T.R.O.N.G. Act was assigned to the Committee on Government Operation, which is headed by Michael F. Flaherty.

Featured Image Courtesy of Daniel Schwen / Wikimedia Commons

October 3, 2019