Massachusetts did not repeal the Second Amendment of the US Constitution
Online reports claim that the US state of Massachusetts recently repealed the Second Amendment of the US Constitution and began to confiscate residents’ guns. A bill facilitating the temporary removal of firearms from people deemed to pose a risk to themselves or others was enacted by the state, but it does not eliminate due process.
An article from YourNewsWire that was shared more than 4,300 times in two weeks falsely claims that a bill passed to allow police to seize guns at their discretion and that Massachusetts is the 12th state to enact such a law. The articles also claim the bill repealed the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which guarantees the right to bear arms.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed Bill H.4670, An Act Relative to Firearms, also known as the “Red Flag” bill, on July 3, 2018.
The bill allows household members, people in close relationships or police officers to file an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) petition with a court in order to have guns removed from Massachusetts residents. An ERPO must be addressed within ten days by a court, and, if justified, results in the immediate removal of firearms for up to a year.
The bill does not allow for the automatic seizure of weapons, and neither does it allow police to do so without the ERPO. Similar legislation in Connecticut (1999), Indiana (2005), California (2014), Washington (2016), Oregon (2017), Florida, Vermont, Maryland, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, and Illinois (2018), have been enacted in the wake of mass shootings.
Furthermore, no single US state or governor has the power to unilaterally repeal an amendment to the United States Constitution. The Constitution can only be amended by a two-thirds vote in both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate, or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of US states.
A photo paired with two incorrect articles purportedly depicting a Massachusetts policeman seizing guns following the ratification of Bill H.4670 is misleading. All of the guns in the photo belong to one man, 65-year-old Robert Stoddard from Cohasset, Massachusetts.
The 98 firearms were seized in April 2017 from his home because they were improperly stored, as the police report from the incident states. Articles reporting on the event use the same photo and explained that the guns were seized following the execution of a search warrant.
A Google Street View search shows that the cemetery in the background of the photo is the one across from Stobbard’s home in Cohasset.
A similar DMG News article also used a misleading photo to illustrate the claim that Massachusetts is seizing guns.
The photo was taken in 2012 in Camden, New Jersey, by Associated Press photographer Mel Evans. The Camden police department had organized a gun buyback program in the wake of a mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. The City of Camden police insignia is visible on the left arm of one of the policemen.