Denials Based on Old Marijuana Convictions Overturned

Judge Stearns of the United States District Court for the First District of Massachusetts recently overturned the denial of two “permits to purchase” handguns which were denied based on two out of state simple possession of marijuana convictions, which were 30 and 40-years old at the time the plaintiffs sought their “permits to purchase.”

The police chiefs denied both applicants based on Chapter 180 of the Acts of 1988 which prohibit those convicted of violations of G.L. c. 94C from being licensed to possess firearms.

Judge Stearns ruled that as applied to the two plaintiffs, the prohibition against firearms ownership found in G.L. c. 140 § 131(d)(i)(e) and §131A unconstitutionally infringed on the plaintiff’s Second Amendment rights to possess handguns in their homes for self defense and the right to maintain proficiency with them.

Both plaintiff’s had valid Firearm Identification Cards (FID). They sought, from their respective police chiefs, permits to purchase, which would have allowed them to purchase non-high capacity handguns and keep them in their homes for self-defense.

In Dist. of Columbia v. Heller, our Supreme Court announced that the 2nd Amendment gives us the right to possess and carry weapons in self-defense of  “hearth and home.” In McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Supreme Court held that the Heller decision applies to the states.

Judge Stearns held that the Massachusetts Gun Control Law infringes on their right to possess firearms in their homes for self-defense. They were not given the right to carry firearms outside of their homes, except for target practice.

Read the full text of the decision here. (PDF).