If you have been denied a License to Carry Firearms (LTC) or Firearms Identification card (FID), or if your FID or LTC has been suspended or revoked, you have the right to a hearing in the Massachusetts District Court which has jurisdiction over your licensing authority, unless you have previously had a G.L. c. 209A hearing. The issues to be decided at the hearing depend on whether you have or seeking a Firearms Identification Card or License to Carry. Firearms Identification Card suspension, revocation, or denial appeals are governed by G.L. c. 140, §129B (5). Appeals regarding Licenses to Carry Firearms are governed by G.L. c. 140, §131(f). You are entitled to be represented by a lawyer in these appeals and hiring an attorney is strongly recommended.
A firearms licensing hearing is commenced by the filing of a Petition for Judicial Review. The burden is on the petitioner to convince the presiding judge that the petitioner is not statutorily disqualified from holding a LTC and that there are no reasonable grounds for the action taken by the licensing authority. By their very definition, these firearms license suspension, revocation, or denial hearings are not de novo, meaning that they are supposed to be judicial reviews of the facts and circumstances which were considered by the licensing authority when his or her decision was made.
To prevail at a license to carry denial hearing, the petitioner must produce “substantial evidence” that the action taken was “arbitrary, capricious or an abuse of discretion.” Courts have defined “substantial evidence” as “such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” When ruling on a Petition for Judicial Review, the judge is permitted to both re-examine the facts found by the licensing official and to make additional and new findings of facts as well. If a police official makes any legal errors in suspending, revoking, or denying a firearms license, the court is required to find in favor of the applicant. Likewise, if there was no reasonable basis for the action taken, the applicant must prevail.
In reviewing a firearms license suspension, revocation, or denial based on “suitability,” the court’s function is to basically assess the reasonableness of the action by balancing the Petitioner’s firearms rights against the concerns articulated by the licensing authority. In balancing these sometimes competing interests, a judge cannot substitute his or her personal opinion for that of the police chief. Instead, he or she must determine if the chief’s decision was reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances of the case.
Anyone aggrieved by an adverse District Court decision in a LTC or FID appeal can file a Petition for Certiorari in Superior Court pursuant to G.L. c. 231, § 97. Certiorari review is confined to the facts and circumstances contained in the District Court record and the Petition must be filed in Superior Court within 60 days of the adverse decision.
If you have been aggrieved by a firearms license suspension, revocation, or denial, you must file a Petition for Judicial Review in the appropriate court within ninety (90) days of being notified of the adverse action. A Massachusetts Firearms Lawyer can help you exercise your legal rights. Fill out the contact form on this site or call for more information.