By Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE -- In the two-way Democratic primary for attorney general, former prosecutor Maura Healey has developed a plan to reduce gun crimes that combines new technology such biometric trigger locks with social programs to address the root causes of street violence.
Healey, who left the attorney general's office to run for the state's top law enforcement job, plans to outline a strategy to reduce gun violence on Wednesday that would trace all guns used in crimes committed in Massachusetts, require all private gun sales to be conducted through a registered gun dealer and close what she described as a loophole that allows guns to enter the state untraced through gun shows and private sales.
"My plan is multi-faceted and that's the type of plan you need to address gun violence and promote gun safety," Healey told the News Service in an interview.
With gun violence solutions discussed by lawmakers as a top priority but yet to emerge in the Legislature this session, Healey said she would be an advocate for inclusion of many her proposals in legislation this year and studied the recommendations of a task force convened by House Speaker Robert DeLeo when crafting her plan.
Though Healey and her Democratic opponent former Sen. Warren Tolman have clashed over whether the attorney general has the authority to require fingerprint trigger locks on all new guns sold in Massachusetts, Healey said she would work with state and federal lawmakers and gun manufactures to make sure the state is taking advantage of technological advancements.
"I fully support the use of fingerprint technology. It's in my plan. I think I go even further by incorporating what the state of California did in creating markings for ammunition," Healey said.
Tolman and former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger believe the attorney general can use the office's consumer protection authority to require the trigger locks, while Healey believes it more likely needs to be done through legislation.
Healey also plans to call for the adoption of a federal ban on undetectable firearms that would require all guns to have at least one metal part, and would seek to prohibit the 3D printing of plastic guns that are untraceable and easy to destroy.
In addition to keeping guns out of the hands of criminals with expanded background checks and "suitability" tests for gun ownership and licensing, Healey said officials must also refocus on "breaking the cycle of violence we see in our communities."
Her plan recommends expanding programs like YouthConnect that link social workers with at-risk youth and their families through a partnership with the Boston Police Department. Healey also wants to support early childhood violence prevention programs and vowed to enforce laws against discriminatory housing, lending and employment practices that lock communities into poverty.
"What we see are efforts to get services and programs to communities and families that need help. We just need to make sure we're doing it effectively and targeted at those who need it most to break the cycle of violence," Healey said.
She supports expanding access to mental health treatment services in hospital emergency rooms, and said behavioral health issue identification programs should be integrated into schools and other education settings to identify early signs of mental illness that could lead to a young person harming themselves or others.
Former head of the Massachusetts State Police Col. Marian McGovern called Healey's plan "a clear, smart approach to the serious problem of gun violence," and Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan said it would make communities and schools safer.
Healey has also been endorsed by Northeastern University criminologist Jack McDevitt, who headed the speaker's gun violence task force and said in the statement, "I believe it will result in fewer firearm deaths in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."