Jay Simkin v. Firearms Records Bureau

Jay Simkin was a New Hampshire resident and a federally licensed firearms dealer who buys and sells guns at private parties, at gun shows, and at auctions.” Simkin also had a temporary nonresident Class A unrestricted license to carry firearms in Massachusetts, which was renewed.

In 2009, Simkin went to a medical appointment in Stoneham, Massachusetts and informed medical assistant that he was armed and he secured his weapons (two firearms, ammunition, and four knives) in a locked briefcase during the appointment. Additionally, Simkin used a pseudonym (“Horace Jones”) and Maryland address to register at the medical facility. Employees of the medical facility were “alarmed” and “concerned for their safety” based on Simkin’s conduct, and called the Stoneham police much later that day to report their concerns.

Stoneham police investigated the incident and attempted to contact Horace Jones. At some point, Simkin became aware that Stoneham police were looking for Horace Jones, the pseudonym he used. Simkin’s attorney contacted the police and sent copies of his Massachusetts license and his Federal firearms license, as well as copies of receipts for payment for the medical services. Simkin’s attorney also informed the police that his client used a pseudonym for privacy reasons.

The police sent a letter to the Firearms Records Bureau and Simkin’s license was revoked because he was no longer a “suitable person” to possess a firearm in Massachusetts. The bureaus letter stated that Simkin’s visit to the medical office while “heavily armed” fell outside the “business activity” of buying and selling firearms and that his actions caused “fear and alarm” at the medical office. Furthermore, Simkin used a false name in order to conceal his identity.

Simkin filed a petition for judicial review in District Court and the judge concluded that “suitability” was not an appropriate ground for license revocation. The judge also found Simkin had an unrestricted License to carry firearms “for all lawful purposes,” G. L. c. 140, § 131 (a), including personal protection. Second, there was no support for the bureau’s contention that Simkin did anything to cause fear and alarm at the medical office apart from the fact that he was carrying concealed weapons, something that he was lawfully entitled to do. Third, although Simkin used a pseudonym while receiving medical treatment in order to protect his privacy, there was no suggestion that Simkin was committing a crime or perpetrating a fraud. A Superior Court Judge vacated the District Court Judge’s finding and the case was further appealed.

The SJC held that because Simkin held an unrestricted Class A license to carry firearm with no restrictions he was allowed to carry firearms “for all lawful purposes.” G. L. c. 140, § 131 (a) including into a medical office. Simkin’s decision to carry his firearms to his medical appointment did make him unsuitable to have a License to Carry. The SJC stated that the medical staff’s claim that Simkin caused alarm because he was “heavily armed” was meritless. “Simkin is not responsible for alarm caused to others by his mere carrying of concealed weapons pursuant to a license permitting him to do.”

“Open Carry” allows Class A LTC holders to carry exposed and loaded in public barring any local restriction on the permit. “Open carry” allows Class B LTC holders to carry exposed and loaded non-large capacity weapons in public unless there is a local restriction on the permit. M.G.L. c.140 s 131C restricts class B holders from carrying in a vehicle unless the weapon is secured and unloaded.