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Massachusetts governor signs law tightening state gun rules

BOSTON (Reuters) - Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has signed into law a measure giving police chiefs authority to turn down a resident's requests to buy a rifle or shotgun if they believe the person may be a danger.

The measure broadens the authority of police, who were already allowed to deny sales of handguns to people who failed background checks. The new measure gives a police chief 90 days to petition a court to deny a firearms identification card to someone the chief believes to be unfit.

"Our communities and our families are safer when irresponsible gun sales and use are reduced," Patrick said after signing the bill on Wednesday. "This legislation moves us in that direction."

House lawmakers passed the measure two weeks ago, overriding objections from gun-rights advocates in the state Senate who had opposed the measure, worrying that police chiefs could abuse the authority to deny firearms to law-abiding citizens.

The measure allows people with restrictions on their gun licenses to seek judicial review and also declassifies self-defense spray as ammunition.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Bill Trott)

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