bearingarms.com took a look at Massachusetts’ new, post-Newtown gun control legislative package and highlighted the bit that infringes upon (a.k.a., “guts”) residents’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. It’s a “may issue” proviso that continues to give local police chiefs the power to deny firearms owners ID cards and carry permit if they reckon the applicants isn’t a “suitable person.” This part of the law has come under considerable heat from gun rights advocates. And so the pols changed the law to include the words “shall issue.” Question: when is a change in the law not a change in the law? When it reads like this [bold added]. . .
SECTION 21. Section 129B of said chapter 140, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out paragraph (1) and inserting in place thereof the following paragraph:- (1) Any person residing or having a place of business within the jurisdiction of the licensing authority or any person residing in an area of exclusive federal jurisdiction located within a city or town may submit to the licensing authority an application for a firearm identification card, or renewal of the same, which the licensing authority shall issue if it appears that the applicant is not a prohibited person . . .
Notwithstanding other provisions of paragraph (1) to the contrary, the licensing authority may deny the application or renewal of a firearm identification card, or suspend or revoke a card issued under this section, if in the reasonable exercise of discretion, the licensing authority determines that the applicant or card holder is unsuitable to be issued or to continue to hold a firearm identification card. A determination of unsuitability shall be based on: (i) reliable and credible information that the applicant or card holder has exhibited or engaged in behavior that suggests the applicant or card holder could potentially create a risk to public safety if issued a card; or (ii) existing factors that suggest that the applicant or card holder could potentially create a risk to public safety if issued a card. Upon denying an application or renewal of a card based on a determination of unsuitability, the licensing authority shall notify the applicant in a writing setting forth the specific reasons for such determination as set forth in paragraph (3). Upon revoking or suspending a card based on a determination of unsuitability, the licensing authority shall notify the holder of a license in a writing setting forth the specific reasons for such determination as set forth in paragraph (4). The determination of unsuitability shall be subject to judicial review as set forth in paragraph (5).
If you need a gun control-shaped hole to drive a truck through, I suggest “existing factors.” “Suggested” existing factors, in fact. Suggesting existing factors that pose a “potential” risk to public safety.
Bob Owens at Bearing Arms reckons the new language could disqualify an applicant for “anything from supporting the ‘wrong’ political party, to joining the ‘wrong’ Facebook group, to living in the ‘wrong’ neighborhood, or associating with the ‘wrong’ people, even though you have broken no laws.”
I say culture eats language for lunch. The prevailing culture among Massachusetts politicians and bureaucrats? Guns are bad. They’ll do whatever they can to keep law-abiding citizens from having “easy access” to firearms – with no appreciable effect on crime. Until the Bay State returns to the values upon which it was based, protecting or restoring gun rights will always be an uphill fight.
That said . . .
The Massachusetts Gun Owners Action League is celebrating the bill’s new language. The believe the bill puts the burden on the licensing authorities to prove that an applicant is unsuitable. In other words, they call the above language “shall issue.” Here’s their presser:
Today marks a great victory for Second Amendment advocates in Massachusetts. As of this morning, a new version of H.4121 has been released by the House Ways and Means Committee. The new number is H.4278. The new version is a tremendously different piece of legislation from the original version and that is a direct result of your efforts. The vast amount of phone calls, emails, letters, and personal contacts forced vast changes to the bill.
– Getting rid of the one year misdemeanor disqualifier [ED: the bit that MA police opposed.]
– Removing restriction and “reason” from the FID card language;
– Changing the “suitability” issues to place the burden on the licensing authority to prove an individual a threat to public safety;
– Changed the suicide study language that previously only included firearms to include all types of suicide;
– Ensuring that people seeking voluntary mental health treatment or observation are not included in the NICs information;
– Added the term “prohibited person” to FID and LTC language;
– Removing language regarding vast changes in training;
– Adding language to protect the trainers of youth with firearms;
– Creating strong crime language including GOAL’s Criminal Firearms Division
We have been very successful in changing the gun language in this bill, that GOAL has now told the legislature that we are neutral on the bill. Why neutral? Because there are a lot of sections in the bill that don’t affect firearms law such as school safety, mental health and other matters that certain legislators may not be comfortable with. While not perfect, the changes show how effective you have been. We will still have to be vigilant today during the debates to make sure that no adverse amendments are passed.
You know me: I don’t think there should be ANY gun control laws. Period. What’s your take on this revision?