Attorney General Andrea Campbell pledges to fight for gun legislation, reproductive rights


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Attorney General Andrea Campbell.

By Rebecca Horton

Attorney General Andrea Campbell was sworn into office on Jan. 18, with plans to strengthen reproductive rights and gun legislation. She is the first Black woman to hold the position in Massachusetts, and the first woman of color to serve in statewide office.

Since assuming office, Campbell has announced support for several bills, including one that extends bans on the purchase and possession of gun silencers—an important facet of her effort to tackle gun violence. She also showed support for bills regarding the protection of nursing home residents and the privacy of crime victims.

Over the next four years, Campbell intends to lobby for comprehensive gun legislation, workers rights, reproductive justice, and an equitable justice system, according to her website. She has noted specific intentions to form an office of gun safety enforcement and a reproductive justice unit.

“We can create safer, healthier communities by defending our common sense gun laws and working with organizations that are breaking cycles of violence and pushing for meaningful criminal legal reform,” Campbell said during her inaugural address on Jan. 18.

As the first Black woman to hold the title of attorney general in Massachusetts, and the first woman of color to serve in statewide office, Campbell wants to use her position to build a supportive infrastructure for Massachusetts’ most vulnerable communities.

“My hope is that every day, women and young people who look like me, and see the incredible work of this office, will feel less invisible,” she said. “I like to think of it as a shining example of what’s possible. That a girl from a poor family, who grew up in public housing in Boston, could become the 45th attorney general of Massachusetts.”

Campbell, a champion of opportunity, grew up in Roxbury and graduated from Boston Latin School. She became the first in her family to attend both college and law school, graduating from Princeton University in 2004 and UCLA Law School in 2009. She was elected to public office in 2015 after an extensive career in private practice, and served on Boston’s City Council. Three years later, she was unanimously elected City Council President, becoming the first Black woman to hold the title.

Campbell’s passion for justice was born out of hardships she experienced throughout her childhood, which were described in her address. Campbell was raised in poor and public housing after her mother died in a car crash on her way to visit her father in prison. 

Her brothers, too, have been in and out of the prison system. In 2012, her twin brother, Andre Campbell, died due to receiving inadequate healthcare while in state custody as a pretrial detainee. Her older brother is currently in custody awaiting rape charges.

“No person is more motivated to tackle ‘for all,’ than a woman with such personal and painful experience with justice ‘for some,’” said Stephanie Lovell, co-chair of Campbell’s transition committee, during the welcome address.

Over a thousand people attended the inauguration, held in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, including newly-elected Governor Maura Healey, Mayor Michelle Wu, State Representative Ayana Pressley, and Senator Ed Markey. Campbell’s husband, Matthew L. Sheier, and their two children watched on as she was sworn in.

“The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office is the best law firm in the country,” Campbell said during her address. “I am honored to go to work with the incredibly talented staff who are dedicated to service and passionate about protecting and fighting for our residents.” 

She also paid homage to former Senator Edward W. Brooke III, who, in 1963, became the first Black attorney general in the United States.

Campbell’s inauguration followed a historic election season, which saw women elected to five of Massachusetts’ six statewide constitutional offices for the first time. Among them was former Attorney General Maura Healey, who made history as the first woman and member of the LGBTQ+ community to be elected governor.