The purpose of the sealed records laws, G.L. c. 276 § 100 A-C is to insure that a record of a criminal conviction or juvenile delinquency adjudication, which falls within certain parameters, doesn’t prevent a person from going forward with his or her life with respect to future employment and licensing. However, when it comes to applying for a License to Carry Firearms, the Massachusetts Firearms Records Bureau is given access to sealed records by the Office of the Commissioner of Probation, which would report whether a license to carry applicant has a sealed record with disqualifying convictions.
Courts have made it clear that an adult sealed record can be considered for firearms licensing purposes. However, when it comes to sealed juvenile records, the statute severely limits their access and there was no statutory provision which allowed access for firearms licensing. Unfortunately for Massachusetts License to Carry applicants, all that changed on May 4, 2012, when the Criminal Offender Records & Information (CORI) reform law was implemented.
Under the new Massachusetts CORI law, law enforcement agencies are now granted access to sealed records, including sealed juvenile records. There is now a statutory basis for the use of a sealed juvenile record to deny the issuance and/or renewal of a Massachusetts License to Carry Firearms, based on the contents of a sealed juvenile record, no matter how long ago the offense was committed and regardless of the applicant’s age when he or she committed the offense. Further, these records can be used not only to disqualify someone from holding a firearms license, but also to determine whether the applicant is a “suitable person.” The CORI reform law was touted as being a big step forward for offenders. However, it seems to be a giant step backwards for those with sealed juvenile records who are seeing to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights.