A View from the Hill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 3, 2000
CONTACT: Tommy Voltero (617) 722-2240; E-mail:Thomas.Voltero@hou.state.ma.us
BOSTON JAYCEES TAKE ACTIVE ROLE IN THE COMMUNITY
As I was sorting through a stack of my weekly mail a little while ago, I noticed one envelope that really stuck out. It didn't look like the usual (and seemingly never-ending) assortment of bills that arrive at my doorstep every day, and for that reason, I immediately took it out of the pile. I was hoping that the thing would be stuffed with coupons for my favorite restaurants, but after taking a closer look, I quickly discovered that, unfortunately, none were inside.
On the bright side, there weren't any bills in there either. What was inside was a letter congratulating me for being chosen as a 2000 Boston Jaycees TOYL award recipient. Being someone who is used to seeing, "sorry, please play again," when opening soda bottles, I was naturally a little surprised to open a letter of this kind. After writing a note to the Jaycees notifying them that there must have been some kind of mix-up, I learned that I was indeed an actual winner of their award. I was informed that a Mr. Craig Gibson, Winchester resident and also president of the Jaycees' "Ten Club," was the one who had nominated me for this prestigious honor.
The Boston Junior Chamber of Commerce, known as the Boston Jaycees, is a volunteer organization comprised of individuals aged 21 to 40 who work actively in the community to improve the lives of others. As part of the U.S. Jaycees, the Boston Junior Chamber of Commerce has been involved in the creation and facilitation of several important social programs since 1921.
Among the more notable events run by the Jaycees is the Ten Outstanding Young Leader Awards (TOYL), which recognize ten individuals for their community service, professional accomplishments, and personal development. Every year, the Jaycees select candidates for these awards from all sectors of society, including: government, business, medicine, law, the arts, and social service. Past recipients have included Leonard Bernstein, Bob Cousy, and Robert Kennedy.
I was flattered- and frankly stunned- to have been chosen as a 2000 TOYL award winner for my part in the Massachusetts "Gun Control Act of 1998." As House Chairman for the Committee on Public Safety, I was in the unique position of working with fellow legislators, interest groups, and concerned citizens to craft one of the most comprehensive pieces of gun control legislation in the country.
Chapter 180 of the Acts of 1998, which went into effect June 1, 1998, imposed tough restrictions of the sale, possession, and use of firearms in Massachusetts. Among other things, it required that all new firearm license applicants complete a certified firearms safety or hunter education course and that all firearms be stored in a locked container or be equipped with an approved locking device. Furthermore, the law imposed a ban on covert guns, unreliable guns (junk guns) and certain assault weapons, and established a new category of "large capacity weapons" and feeding devices.
When writing this important piece of legislation, we had only one thing on our minds: saving lives. Too many innocent lives were being cut tragically short because of the widespread and loosely-regulated proliferation of firearms in this country. As an indication of the absurdity of the whole situation, in some states, teddy bears and pajamas are more regulated than handguns with so little trigger resistance that even a three-year-old can pull the trigger! With such a dearth of governmental regulations in this area, it should be no surprise that the United States leads the world in fatalities caused by firearms.
In one year, guns killed zero children in Japan, 19 in Great Britain, 109 in France, 153 in Canada, and 5,285 in the United States. That means that almost 15 children are killed every day by guns- the same number that were killed in total in the Columbine massacre in Littleton, Colorado. Images of other school shootings like Jonesboro, Arkansas and Springfield, Oregon may fill the nightly news every once in a while, but it must be understood that these kinds of tragedies happen every single day in America.
In light of all these terrible statistics, passing the Gun Control Act of 1998 was the only logical, and for that matter, moral action that we could have taken. Knowing that something as a simple as a trigger lock could prevent a child from accidentally killing himself or someone else, passing tougher laws was really a "no-brainer" for my committee.
I am gracious that the Boston Jaycees were supportive of my efforts to curb gun violence in Massachusetts. It must be pointed out, however, that the Gun Control Act of 1998 was the product of the hard work, dedication, and compassion of a host of people who came together to say "enough is enough!". Without the support of these individuals, as well as society at-large, it would have been impossible to tighten the gun laws in this state in the first place.
It is important that we recognize the contributions made by all people who are concerned with what is happening to their society. In an era in which the world is becoming increasingly complex, confusing, and at times bewildering, every one of us can do our part by playing an active role in our own communities. It is our duty and responsibility to stand up for things that matter; to speak out against injustice- especially when it is at our doorstep. Involvement in the community brings us back to the important things in life; it reminds us that, despite how high the Dow Jones goes, we are all still human beings in need of each other.
With movements and organizations dedicated to this mission like the "Million Mom March," "Stop Handgun Violence," and the Boston Jaycees, doing good is always a rewarding experience.