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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 68650 Find in a Library
Title: ENFORCEMENT WORKSHOP - THE POLICE AND THE MANDATORY GUN LAW
Journal: CRIMINAL LAW BULLETIN  Volume:16  Issue:2  Dated:(MARCH-APRIL 1980)  Pages:164-167
Author(s): L W SHERMAN
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 4
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THIS DISCUSSION OF THE POLICE AND THE MANDATORY GUN LAW FOCUSES ON THE ROSSMAN REPORT WHICH ANALYZED THE IMPACT OF THE 1975 BARTLEY-FOX GUN LAW IN MASSACHUSETTS.
Abstract: THREE ISSUES RAISED BY THE REPORT ARE CONSIDERED. THESE INCLUDE THE RELATIONSHIP OF GUNS AND VIOLENCE, THE COMMUNICATION OF LEGAL CHANGES TO THE POLICE, AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF PLACING MORE DE FACTO DISCRETION IN THE HANDS OF THE POLICE. THE ROSSMAN REPORT PROVIDED INDIRECT SUPPORT FOR THE POSITION THAT THE LETHALITY OF AVAILABLE WEAPONS MADE A GREAT DIFFERENCE IN THE HOMICIDE RATE. UNFORTUNATELY, THE REPORT DID NOT MEASURE THE PRESENCE OR AVAILABILITY OF GUNS IN THE POPULATION. ROSSMAN REPORTS THAT MORE PEOPLE VOLUNTARILY TURNED IN THEIR UNLICENSED GUNS TO THE POLICE AFTER BARTLEY-FOX BECAME EFFECTIVE, BUT THE TOTAL NUMBER TURNED IN WAS TOO SMALL TO HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE. IN ADDITION, THE STUDY DID NOT EXAMINE ANOTHER IMPORTANT CONSEQUENCE OF THE BARTLEY-FOX LAW--THE POTENTIAL INCREASE IN THE SAFETY OF POLICE OFFICERS. INVESTIGATION DATA DO SHOW, HOWEVER, THAT THE PROPORTION OF ASSAULTS COMMITTED WITH A GUN DECLINED FROM 7 TO 2 PERCENT AFTER THE LAW WAS PASSED. ROSSMAN FOUND EVEN AFTER BARTLEY-FOX THAT THE POLICE OF MASSACHUSETTS RECEIVED NO TRAINING IN THE NEW LAW AND THAT THE LACK OF TRAINING SHOWED. THERE WAS CONSIDERABLE CONFUSION ABOUT THE LAW AMONG THE POLICE OFFICERS INTERVIEWED: 45 PERCENT INCORRECTLY THOUGHT THE LAW DID NOT APPLY TO RIFLES AND SHOTGUNS AND 43 PERCENT THOUGHT THERE WAS NO DIFFERENCES IN PENALTY BETWEEN POSSESSION OF AND CARRYING A GUN. THE LAW GAVE POLICE DISCRETION TO SENTENCE GUN VIOLATIONS, AND, ONE OF THE MOST ENCOURAGING FINDINGS IN THE REPORT, POLICE SHOWED NO MEASURED DISCRIMINATION AGAINST NON-WHITES IN THEIR ENFORCEMENT OF BARTLEY-FOX. HOWEVER, THE RISK OF BEING INCARCERATED FOR CARRYING A GUN VARIED SUBSTANTIALLY FROM CITY TO CITY AND YEAR TO YEAR. BARTLEY-FOX HAS SEVERAL IMPLICATIONS FOR GUN CONTROL SUPPORTERS. FIRST OF ALL, GUNS CAN BE RESTRICTED BY MAKING PENALTIES FOR EXISTING VIOLATIONS MORE SEVERE. NEXT, THERE CAN BE A SHORT-RUN DECLINE IN CRIME AND IN SERIOUS ATTACTS ON POLICE FOLLOWING THE LAW'S PASSAGE. FINALLY, LEGISLATURES MUST ADOPT A MORE REALISTIC APPROACH TO TRAINING POLICE WHEN NEW LAWS ARE IMPLEMENTED.
Index Term(s): Firearms; Gun Control; Massachusetts; Police discretion; Police training; State laws
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=68650

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