Scenes from life in the People’s Republic . . .
At the local level, no town’s firearm laws can override or be less stringent than those set by the state. Confusing matters even further than the baseline state and federal background and fingerprint checks, stringency is not always so black and white, or necessarily applied in accordance with Mass law. The licensing process is often drawn out longer than it is supposed to be, with the majority of municipalities failing to meet the state’s 40-day deadline for application processing. According to the Massachusetts auditor’s report from 2017, only 38 of 347 local licensing authorities had average wait times that were within the mandated limit. The average wait statewide was 65 days.
The Revere Police Department notes on its website that applicants need three letters of recommendation that are not from family members and that are written by people “of good moral character and must have known you for at least five years.” In periods for which numbers are available, Revere’s waiting period has been relatively long, in some cases up to more than 120 days, whereas the wait in some of its neighboring suburbs are on average one-quarter that long.
One Lynn resident who spoke with us applied for his license to carry last year. Jamie Rivera said he understands why towns have different policies and longer application processes. His deference appears to be in line with most Americans; in a Pew Research Center survey conducted last September, less than half of the respondents said the waiting period for buying a gun should be shortened.
“When you apply for a gun in a town that’s closer to a city,” Rivera said, “that’s a lot different than applying for one when you live near the woods.”
Rivera had to complete safety courses, interview with local cops, and pay a fee of $100 with his application. Authorities told him the process could take up to six months. In the end, it took half that long.
“With applying for a license in [dense cities] like Lynn, there’s more likelihood of gun negligence,” Rivera said. “Gun policy tries to combat that by making stricter processes.”
– Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism in Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Guns in Mass (But Were Afraid to Ask)