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Worcester Coalition Rallies Support for Stricter Gun Laws

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


The recently-formed Greater Worcester Coalition Against Gun Violence is working to make sure the voices of gun safety groups are heard on Beacon Hill and beyond.

The coalition, composed of Worcester area residents and organizations, will hold its first public forum this Saturday at the Worcester Public Library with Dr. Michael Hirsh, acting commissioner of the Worcester Division of Public Health (WDPH), speaking about the accessibility of firearms, the Commonwealth's gun safety laws and what steps can be taken to reduce the number of gun-related deaths.

Hirsh is no stranger to the fight against gun violence. The doctor lost one of his closest friends and colleagues to a shooting over 30 years ago, and the tragedy inspired Hirsh to develop the "Goods for Guns" buyback program, which has taken a total of 2,311 guns out of homes and off of streets in Worcester since it began in 2002.

The drive for meaningful change

Gun violence is a personal issue for organizing members of the coalition as well.

"I personally have my own history with gun violence," said Dante Comparetto of Worcester. "As a teenager, I got involved in a whole bunch of pretty bad things, and I was subsequently shot in the leg, and I've also had many friends that were killed."

Comparetto said the coalition was started in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. last December by a group of individuals from around the area who wanted to see some meaningful changes in gun safety legislation.

Several Worcester community groups have come on board as well, said Comparetto, including Women Together, Mosaic Worcester, the Center for Nonviolent Solutions and a group associated with MoveOn as well.

Making their voice heard

Dr. Michael Hirsh

"Part of the reason why we formed is because we realized how strong groups like the NRA are at ensuring that meaningful gun legislation doesn't get passed and really kind of fogging the debate," Comparetto said. "Right now, a lot of these groups are forming and they're being heard at the State House much more than gun safety groups like us."

Last week, with support from the NRA, the gun rights group Commonwealth Second Amendment (Comm2A) and six Mass. residents filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of restrictions placed on the Licenses to Carry issued by Worcester Chief of Police Gary Gemme and his counterparts in the towns of Weymouth, Danvers and Peabody. In the suit, the plaintiffs allege that they were were denied their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms because the police chiefs imposed unreasonable and unlawful licensing restrictions on them.

"In this instance, I'm 100 percent supportive of Chief Gemme and his approach to issuing gun permits," said Comparetto, who does not necessarily see eye to eye with the chief on every issue.

He noted that the predominant amount of violence in Worcester stems from knife attacks, which have a much higher survival rate than shootings, due in large part to the tight gun restrictions in the city as well as the state as a whole.

"We'd like to even strengthen those laws," Comparetto said. "We'd like to lead the nation with regard to gun laws."

The coalition's members have been very supportive of Governor Deval Patrick's proposed gun safety legislation, and new legislation is said to be in the pipeline.

A first step in mobilizing support

In the meantime, Comparetto and compatriots in the Greater Worcester Coalition Against Gun Violence will take the first step in trying to mobilize support for eventual lobbying at the State House with their event this weekend.

"We're going to be talking about the prevalence of guns, we're going to be talking about gun violence in general, we're going to be talking about current gun safety law in Massachusetts and how that can be strengthened," Comparetto said.

The forum will be held on the Worcester Public Library's third floor, beginning at 10:00 a.m. this Saturday, February 16.


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Stephen Quist

adding additional gun control laws on the law abiding citizen will do absolutely nothing in preventing gun violence. If and until mental illness and the criminal element is put up front and center the laws will be meaningless......tbc......

Iron Mike Farquhar

Gee, listen to the testimony:

>> "I personally have my own history with gun violence," said Dante Comparetto of Worcester. "As a teenager, I got involved in a whole bunch of pretty bad things, and I was subsequently shot in the leg, and I've also had many friends that were killed."

So you admit YOU 'got involved in...pretty bad things...' - - and NOW you're blaming GUNS?

Was the person who shot you sentenced to the maximum,...or let off easy and is still out there roaming the streets?

Massachusetts already has 'strict gun laws' – but very liberal and lenient judges.

You want to make our streets safer? Elect some Constitutional Conservatives to the next Governor's Council – and stop sending ninnies like Deval Patrick to the corner office where he appoints ninnies like MaryBeth Heffernan to be judges!

You don't need new laws – just ENFORCE the ones we already have! Then KEEP the GOONS locked up!

AND Doctor Hirsh, figure out why your fellow medical professionals won't report dangerous and delusional teenagers to law enforcement. John Odgren [who's parents are medical professionals] killed James Alenson – with a butcher knife – NOT a GUN!

Stephen Quist

Legal gun owners are not the problem or root cause of gun violence here in our Commonwealth nor across our country.
The criminal element could care less what our current laws are to begin with and adding more laws on top of legal gun owners who are not the problem is untenable and quite frankly silly....
all that is happening is that you are creating more laws for the criminals and indivivuals suffering from mental illness to ignore.......
if we are not going to enforce current laws on the books what gives anyone confidence MORE laws are going to make a difference.....tbc......

Harry Huckum


Mr. Comparetto, pay attention to what you wish for. You are asking for a police state.

If you are for gun control, then you are not against guns, because the guns will be needed to disarm people. So it's not that you are anti-gun. You'll need the police's gun to take away other people's guns. So you're very Pro-Gun, you just believe that only the Government (which is of course, so reliable, honest, moral and virtuous...) should be allowed to have guns. There is no such thing as gun control. There is only centralizing gun ownership in the hands of a small political elite and their minions. "

Stefan Molyneux

Sandy Williamson

Perhaps the coalition should review this article. Actual facts abound: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324880504578300083639729180.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

Edward Saucier

All the Worcester Police Chiefs have had their own feelings on issuing gun permits. Some would give a license to carry and some would not. Restrictions on guns is not illegal, unconstitutional or any other stupid reason the GOP wants to conjure up.

Perhaps if one was to link to any article one should not link to a News Corp owned newspaper like the WSJ as they have sold their credibility on certain subjects. One of which is gun control.

Perhaps if one was tot read credible articles about right wingers saying certain things - here is a couple of them I totally agree with:

GOP Should 'Stop Being The Stupid Party' says Bobby Jindal - HuffPost

"Stupid party decides', by Robert Novak - 2006 Townhall.com

Harry Huckum


What is your fetish with the GOP?

They are not mentioned once in the article. Is it because you live in a gun free zone / college neighborhood that you are so messed up in the head, or was it years of being a teamster that caused your dementia? Or maybe it is your advanced age that has your synapses firing in an in coherent manner.

Liberalism is a disease and it sure is taking a toll on your outlook of the world old man.

D Stanley

Wow Harry, Are you sure you’re stable enough to own guns? Some day you’ll be old too, I hope no one picks on you like that. And what’s wrong with being a Teamster? You hate truck drivers and dock workers too?
Hey, I have a proposal; since people commit crimes, let’s punish the people who own illegal guns instead of punishing the illegal guns! The idea is, they get caught for something else, like littering, or embezzlement, or turning right with a left turn signal on, or walking around in circles, and they are also caught with an illegal firearm, BOOM, 5 more years at Walpole, or, an extra $1,000 fine, a month in the State hospital, or whatever. Not too complicated.
Lets face it; the founding fathers wanted free speech for the purpose of political freedom (though unstated)and the right to bear arms for the purpose of a “well regulated militia” (definitely and clearly stated). Fine, run 10 miles plus some other training like our other “well regulated militias” have to do, and you can have your anti-aircraft machinegun. The 2nd amendment mentions “the security of a free state”; I will use my first amendment right to tell you that your 2nd amendment right is, as interpreted right now, interfering with “the security of a free state”.
Many 2nd amendment extremists are “strict constructionists” when it comes to the constitution. That means that they want to abide by “the original meaning” of the constitution. At the time of the writing of the 2nd amendment, black powder muskets (I’m sure there is some super technical armament word for these fire-arms, pardon me for not knowing it) were the most advanced firearms owned by regular citizens. Therefore, anything more advanced, invented after 1791, is fair game for “abridgement”, since the founding fathers couldn’t possibly have been thinking of them when they drafted the 2nd amendment. So go ahead, have your musket. Of course, any State, like Texas, can choose (State’s rights) to have a liberal (that is “loose”) definition of firearms and allow an antitank weapon or two for “gun hobbyists”, if that’s their wish.
My opinion is that having all these high capacity semi-automatic firearms around is the equivalent of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater and causing several people to be trampled to death. A 1st amendment extremist might argue that nobody could regulate that behavior because it is “freedom of speech”, a first amendment right.

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