State representative Marjorie Decker, a Democrat for the 25th district of Middlesex, has put forth a bill (HD.503) which would make legal gun owners civilly liable for crimes committed with their lost or stolen firearms.
Currently, a gun owner who fails to report the theft or loss of a gun can be fined up to $1,000.
According to the applicable statute
Whoever fails to report the loss or theft of a firearm, rifle, shotgun or machine gun…to the commissioner of the department of criminal justice information services and the licensing authority in the city or town where the owner resides shall be punished by a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1000 for a first offense.M.G.L. c. 140, § 129C
Additionally, failure to report a lost or stolen firearm could result in the gun owner’s license being revoked. But the current law also states that
No person, who in good faith, reports a [firearm] loss or theft…for the first time shall be subject to suspension, revocation or be considered unsuitable…for the renewal of a lawfully held firearm identification card or license to carry firearms.Id
The proposed bill would keep these conditions in place while also making gun owners civilly liable for crimes committed with guns that are registered to them but no longer in their possession.
The bill states,
Whoever fails to report the loss or theft of a firearm, rifle, shotgun or machine gun that is later used in the commission of a crime shall be civilly liable for any damages resulting from that crime. The liability imposed under this paragraph shall not apply if the owner reports the loss or theft of such firearm, rifle, shotgun or machine gun to the commissioner of the department of criminal justice information services and the licensing authority in the city or town where the owner resides within 24 hours of the owner’s knowledge of such loss or theft.HD.503
The bill was filed by Rep. Decker on January 13, 2023. Its co-petitioners are Mindy Domb, a Democrat who represents Hampshire’s 3rd district and Vanna Howard, another Democrat, who represents Middlesex’s 17th district.
According to the legislature’s website, no action has been taken on the bill since it was filed.