To the editor of THE EAGLE:

Last month, Massachusetts unveiled thoughtful and reasonable legislation aimed at making communities throughout the Berkshires safer. The bill is called "An Act Relative to the Reduction of Gun Violence." Researched by a diverse committee of public and mental health officials and law enforcement, this bill has received wide support from community and business leaders, elected officials, the religious community and many organizations across the region.

This legislation first requires universal background checks by making sure all secondary gun sales occur with a licensed firearms dealer. It also provides new tools to law enforcement so they can better trace the origin of guns used in crimes, while also increasing the penalty if someone fails to report a lost or stolen firearm. Mental health is a part of the legislation, as it requires the commonwealth to join the national database for criminal and mental health background checks.

A relatively small, but vocal minority has been arguing familiar talking points in an effort to kill the legislation, but these critics fail to point out that this legislation respects the rights of lawful gun owners and streamlines the licensing process. It not only closes the dangerous and potentially deadly loopholes in existing gun laws, but it also takes a moderate approach to reducing preventable gun violence in order to ensure that our children and families have the opportunity to live in safer communities. Despite Mass-
achusetts’ relatively tough gun laws, our state has experi-
enced a 17 percent increase in firearm-related injuries from 1998 to 2011, and an 88 percent increase in gun-related homicide during the same period.

Once again, Massachusetts has the opportunity to be a leader. Gun violence is a public health and safety challenge. It requires our attention. Let’s take action now and pass this reasonable legislation

ISABELLE KAPLAN

Pittsfield

The writer is a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.