By Larry Keane, National Shooting Sports Foundation
Last week, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts held its primaries for the upcoming November election. While the outcomes of most of the races were anticipated, two of them did deliver landmark upsets. On Sept. 9, nine-term Representative John Tierney lost his primary election, a blow that has not been dealt to an incumbent Congressman from Massachusetts in 22 years. Joining Tierney in the losers’ circle was Warren Tolman, who lost his Democratic bid for attorney general to Maura Healy.
Besides their recent primary losses, what other striking similarity exists between these two outliers? Both candidates were staunch supporters of a mandate for so-called “smart gun” technology. The National Shooting Sports Foundation had no objection to the continued development of authorized user recognition technology but believes that law-abiding gun owners should be able to decide for themselves whether or not they would like to purchase firearms that include it.
Congressman Tierney has been a consistent proponent of this legislation, including sponsoring a bill in 2013 that would require all guns to have this technology. The legislation has not progressed in the House of Representatives since it was introduced and likely will not be passed since its primary supporter has been unseated.
Tolman also made the smart gun mandate a pillar of his platform, going so far as to release an ad where he pledges to take on the National Rifle Association and mandate the technology. He planned to leverage existing laws in Massachusetts that would allow him as Attorney General to implement the mandate without having to pass legislation.
Undoubtedly, there are many factors that contributed to these two candidates’ losses. However, it is certainly a coincidence that both were strong supporters of mandating that technology and both lost their elections.
Larry Keane is the Sr. VP and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.