What the Holliston Democratic Committee hoped would be a calm and civil discussion about gun laws and safety in Massachusetts turned in to debate on the rights of gun owners and the specifics of Rep. David Lisky's proposed House Bill 3253.
The panel of five experts, specifically Linsky, D-Natick, were asked many questions regarding their beliefs on guns and their knowledge of Massachusetts' laws surrounding gun ownership.
"I would have liked people to be a little more civilized but a lot of people came in really fired up,” Beth Greely, Chairman of the DTC, said; at several points Greely and others had to quiet down the crowd and remind them not to interrupt other speakers. “Hopefully people got something out of it, that’s always good. This will make it easier next time we have the discussion.”
The capacity crowd was a split between Holliston residents and non-residents, although a vocal majority were pro-gun activists. At several times during the conversation moderator Barbara Gardner had to ask for questions from people who were in support of stricter gun control.
Cori Ryan, a Westford resident in attendance, brought a question before Linsky regarding the difference between the words 'committed' and "adjudicated" as used in his bill.
"I took the opportunity to ask him a specific question about his bill and I think he will take it into consideration while reviewing the bill," Ryan said. "My worry is that people who need firearms for defense won't seek mental health for something like an eating disorder because they are scared they might be committed and will therefore be prevented from getting a gun."
The conversation around guns ended with the panelists listing three ways they would like to see more gun safety in the state of Massachusetts.
Holliston Police Chief John Moore suggested strengthening the mental health system, continuing gun safety training for gun applicants and for more help from the public when they believe there is a threat.
Jim Wallace, Executive Director Gun Owners’ Action League, suggested reforming the states laws to make them understandable, providing gun education in the schools and addressing the mental health issues.
The other two panelists were Director of Holliston Youth and Family Services Margaret Fitzpatrick who spoke about the town's youth intervention program and Jerry Belair, Legislative Director for Stop Handgun Violence who spoke adamantly in favor of requiring background checks across the country.