Massachusetts law could affect those charged with weapons crimes

On behalf of Brian D. Roman, Attorney at Law on Wednesday, March 19, 2014.

When a person uses a gun to commit a crime in Massachusetts, the punishment can include many years in jail. If a bill is passed and becomes law, this penalty can even apply to those who use toy guns to commit a crime.

This bill, which was created in 2007, is being brought back to life after a police officer shot a man after he told police he was in possession of a handgun. The weapon turned out to be a pellet gun that closely resembled a semi-automatic gun. The man, hospitalized in fair condition, was originally charged with multiple crimes, but a judge released him. The man must refrain from using drugs and alcohol and wear a monitoring device.

The bill would charge a suspect with a weapons crime and force him or her to face the same penalties whether or not the gun is real or fake. Massachusetts laws already cover similar situations. But, how would the bill have affected the outcome of the shooting? The man told police he had a handgun, so police officers should have already had the right to protect themselves.

It is never a good idea to use a weapon to commit a crime, but this law has some gray areas. What if someone was simply walking down the street with a toy gun? Could it be assumed that they are attempting to commit a crime? What if someone commits a crime and police think the suspect has an object that looks like gun? It would be a good idea to iron out all the details and ensure that this law is fair to everyone.

Source: The Herald News, "Hingham shooting prompts call to increase penalties for using fake guns" Neal Simpson, Mar. 12, 2014