Mass. Firearms License Revocation Constitutional

Stacey Hightower was a Boston Police officer who had her Class A License to Carry Firearms revoked after her resignation, allegedly due to her inaccurately completing her LTC Application.  She never filed a Petition for Judicial Review or otherwise appealed the revocation through customary channels. Instead, Hightower filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Boston and its police commissioner, wherein she claimed that the licensing process violated her rights under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. See Hightower v. City of Boston, 822 F. Supp. 2d 38, D.Mass.,2011

The Court ultimately held that certain limits on firearm ownership do not violate the Second Amendment, as long as the government can show a substantial relationship between the firearms restriction and an important governmental interest. Stated more succinctly, the Second Amendment does not allow completely unrestricted and unlimited firearms ownership. It does not trump all gun control laws. Instead, it prohibits unreasonable restrictions which are unconnected with substantial governmental interests. Laws which prohibit certain classes of people, such as convicted felons, from possessing firearms are constitutional.  Likewise, laws which prohibit the possession of certain types of weapons are likely to withstand judicial scrutiny.

However, in the Hightower case, it bears noting that the U.S. District Court for the First District of Massachusetts rightfully recognized that, “[t]he Second Amendment applies to state and local regulation of firearms” and that “the possession of operative firearms for use in defense of the home constitutes the ‘core’ of the Second Amendment.”

The Court concluded that the revocation of Hightower’s LTC on the basis of false answer she supplied in connection with her LTC renewal application was a legitimate basis for revoking the license and such a revocation does not violate the Second Amendment. Obtaining accurate information from those applying for Unrestricted Class A Licenses to Carry Firearms is an important governmental objective and it is, therefore, not unconstitutional to revoke a license which was issued based on false information.

This case illustrates the importance of having a Massachusetts Firearms Lawyer assist you in the preparation of your LTC Application.

H.R. 822: National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act

 

Lawmakers are considering an important bill which, if enacted, will allow citizens to exercise their Second Amendment Rights nationwide. H.R. 822, the National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, was introduced this year in the Senate as S. 2188, the “National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2012. The Bill requires all states to honor licenses to carry firearms issued by other states. The House version passed in the House last year with, by a vote of 272 in favor and 154 opposed. Critics of the Bill believe that individual states should decide for themselves who can carry a firearm and who cannot. However, since the 2nd Amendment clearly applies to the states, this argument is not very convincing.

Currently, some states have agreements to recognize firearms licenses issued by other states. This is why Utah and Florida Concealed Weapons Permits are so popular. Florida and Utah CCW permits are recognized by multiple states, so they allow holders to carry firearms in a variety of states without having to obtain licenses in those states. The Philadelphia Police Commissioner has complained that a person who has been denied a Pennsylvania Concealed Carry Permit could use the National Right to Carry Act to circumvent the denial by obtaining a Non-Resident Florida CCW permit, which would allow him to carry firearms in Pennsylvania. Another complaint he had was that there is no provision in Bill for establishing a nationwide database of license holders. This means that police officers would have difficulty checking on the validity of out of state firearms licenses, especially after hours.

Critics of the Legislation overlook the fact that driver’s license are reciprocal, meaning that a person on a cross country trip does not need to obtain a driver’s license in each state that he or she drives through. Instead, he can rely on the driver’s license issued by his home state to drive in other states, so long as his right to drive is not suspended or revoked in the other states. The same principle should apply to licenses to carry firearms.

LTC Not Required for Antique Firearms

Jefferson was a passenger in a motor vehicle which the police stopped for committing a traffic violation in the City of Boston. He was carrying a Harrington & Richardson .32 caliber five-shot revolver. Not having a valid License to Carry, he was charged with carrying a firearm without a license. In Commonwealth v. Jefferson, 461 Mass. 821 (2012), our Supreme Judicial Court observed that a License to Carry Firearms is not required to carry or possess a firearm was manufactured before 1900 and, therefore, the defendant could not be convicted of carrying without a license. The firearm was an “antique firearm,” as defined by G.L. c. 140 § 121 and no LTC was required, because firearms manufactured before 1900 are exempt from the licensing requirements of G.L. c. 140 § 131.

 

Colorado Massacre & the Right to Carry

 

The tragic killing of 12 people and the wounding of countless others at a movie theatre in Aurora, by a mass murderer, underscores the importance of the Second Amendment right to carry a firearm for self-defense. Perhaps if one of the moviegoers was armed, the murderer may have been stopped before he killed and wounded so many people.

While gun control advocates might use this tragedy to support anti-gun legislation, the truth is that it underscores the importance of the natural preexisting fundamental protections of the Second Amendment. Commentators will ask, retrospectively, what if anything could have been done to prevent the massacre. One answer to that is that the loss of life may have been minimized or prevented by the intervention a lawfully armed citizen.

Under Massachusetts law, a person who is applying for a license to carry a firearm, which some refer to as a pistol permit or concealed weapons permit, must demonstrate that he or she has a “proper purpose” or need to carry a firearm. One such reason might be for the protection of the applicant, his or her family, and the general public from mass murders and shooters such as the person who took the lives of twelve people at a movie theatre. Unfortunately, violence in society is all too commonplace and those who want to protect themselves should have a legal means to do so.