When Bans Go Wrong: MA Struggles to Enforce Weapons Ban

AG Healey at an April hearing for the weapons ban lawsuit.
AG Healey at an April hearing for the weapons ban lawsuit.

On July 20, 2016, in the wake of the Orlando Pulse Night Club shooting, Attorney General Maura Healey issued a warning regarding the state’s assault weapons ban to all gun sellers and manufacturers in the state, stating that her office would be ramping up enforcement of Massachusetts’ already strict gun laws, including a crackdown on the sale of copycat weapons.

Clarifying the Weapons Ban

The notice, which is posted on the Massachusetts government website, clarifies what guns, according to the decisive ban, are considered “copy” or “duplicate.” The law, which was in place prior to the expiration of the Federal assault weapons ban in 2004, prohibits the sale of copies or duplicates of banned assault rifles, including two of America’s most popular firearms — the Colt AR-15 and the Kalishnikov AK-47. But in spite of the law, an estimated 10,000 copycat assault weapons were sold in Massachusetts last year alone.

According to Healey, the weapons ban has been purposefully misinterpreted by gun manufacturers for decades.

Essentially a gun is considered a copycat if it has the same internal operating system as one of the ones prohibited by the ban — either that or they are outfitted with important functional components that are easily interchangeable with those of a banned weapon. The Attorney General’s office hopes that these important specifications will force gun manufacturers and sellers to discontinue the manufacture and sale of duplicates.

Backlash

In a Boston Globe op-ed piece published the same day as the enforcement notice, Attorney General Healey stated that each of those assault weapons were “nearly identical to the rifle used to gun down 49 innocent people in Orlando.” She continued, stating, “In the week after the Pulse nightclub massacre, sales of weapons strikingly similar to the Sig Sauer MCX used at Pulse jumped as high as 450 percent over the previous week — just in Massachusetts.”

Despite having one of the nation’s toughest set of gun laws, Massachusetts continues to face an uphill battle in the firearms industry. According to Healey, manufacturers “market ‘state compliant’ copycat versions of their assault weapons to Massachusetts buyers. They sell guns without a flash suppressor or folding or telescoping stock, for example, small tweaks that do nothing to limit the lethalness of the weapon.”

Challenging the Ban

According to Healey, “In the dozen years since the federal assault weapons ban lapsed, only seven states have instituted their own assault weapons ban. Many of those bans have been challenged (unsuccessfully) by the gun industry, and we anticipate our directive may be too.”

Turns out, she was right.

This past January, the Massachusetts affiliate of the National Rifle Association sued Healey and Governor Charlie Baker, calling the state’s ban — and its revisions — unconstitutional and unlawful. The purpose of the suit was to have the ban declared “void and unenforceable.”

Jay Porter, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, stated, “Our position is that the state doesn’t have the authority under the Second Amendment to ban firearms that are commonly kept by responsible law abiding citizens for lawful purposes. … The Supreme Court has told us emphatically that the government cannot ban popular firearms which are commonly kept for lawful purposes.”

Weapon of War or Safety?

But the question needs to be asked, what lawful purpose do assault weapons have? The most commonly reported reason for owning a gun is self-defense.

However, Healey stated rather concisely in her op-ed that assault weapons like the AR-15, are “[weapons] of war, originally created for combat, and designed to kill many people in a short amount of time with incredible accuracy… These are not weapons of self-defense. They are weapons used to commit mass murder. And they have no business being in civilian hands.”

Since the enforcement notice, manufacture and sales of assault weapons has ended in the state of Massachusetts. But gun industry lobbyists and gun rights activists continue to fight what they consider unjust gun laws.

And their lawsuit is not without precedent.

Gun rights advocates have previously filed similar complaints in New York, Connecticut, and Maryland.

As of April 7, 2017, the judge overseeing the case met with both parties to discuss whether or not the July directive constitutes a new state regulation before he decides whether to move the lawsuit forward.

Since then no new information has come out. We will continue to update the story as it progresses.

In the mean time, we’d love for you to weigh in. What do you think of AG Healey’s assault weapons ban? Do you think people need semi-automatic weapons for purposes of self-defense? Let us know.

 

Why Massachusetts Has the Nation’s Toughest Gun Laws

The debate rages on for gun owners and gun laws in the United States
The fight for better gun laws continues to rage on despite decades of firearm legislation.

It’s no secret to Massachusetts gun owners that the Codfish State has some of the strictest firearm laws in the United States. And as the years have gone by, those laws have continued to tighten — despite the efforts of organizations like the NRA. So how exactly did it get to be this way?

The 1998 Massachusetts Gun Control Act

In 1998, Massachusetts passed what was hailed as the nation’s toughest gun legislation. That law sought to make the gun licensure process more comprehensive and difficult to navigate. It banned semiautomatic assault weapons, created additional licensing rules and sought severe penalties for those storing unlocked guns. Part of the legislation required all new firearm license applicants to complete a certified firearms safety or hunter education course.

The law also imposed a ban on covert guns, unreliable guns (junk guns), and certain assault weapons. Despite these restrictions, many argued the laws were ineffective in curbing gun violence. But as James Alan Fox, a Northeastern University criminologist stated, “The quality of your gun-licensing laws is only as good as those surrounding you.’’

The 2004 Revisions

In an attempt to further strengthen the 1998 laws, Massachusetts legislators enacted a series of revisions to the original act. As part of the revisions, the ban on certain assault weapons was continued; an extension was put in place for the term of FID cards and LTC from four to six years; a provision was added for a grace period of 90 days following the expiration of a license, as was an exemption of the LTC renewal fee for active law enforcement officers.

Beyond that, the 2004 revisions sought to establish a firearm license review board whose responsibility was to review applications from individuals convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses who were disqualified under current law.

The 2014 Laws

Following the devastating 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Massachusetts lawmakers came together in an effort to overhaul the state’s gun laws — which many believed were too lax, despite the state’s consideration as one of the nation’s toughest states for gun owners.

The 2014 law stiffened penalties for certain gun-based crimes, instituted real-time background checks in private gun sales and created a firearms trafficking unit within the state police. It also gave police chiefs the right to use judiciary means to deny FID cards to people whom they felt were unsuitable to own a weapon.

Going Forward

Despite the efforts Massachusetts lawmakers to stiffen firearm laws and curb gun violence, many argue that these laws aren’t enough on their own. Jim Wallace, head of the Massachusetts-based Gun Owners Action League and a vocal gun rights advocate, said “more laws don’t necessarily mean good laws.”

But if you look to countries like Australia, where strict gun laws have led to a massive decline in gun violence and gun-related murders,, Wallace’s assertion might not stack up. It seems to go without saying that a nation’s level of gun ownership would be proportionate to their gun-death rates. Following nationwide buyback and confiscation efforts in Australia, there hasn’t been a single mass shooting since 1996.

The problem is, in America gun ownership is very much apart of the culture. It’s one of the nation’s most coveted and controversial amendments. Australia is a small country compared to America. A nationwide buyback and confiscation program would probably not go over very well. So it’s clear that the issue goes deeper than law. Moreover, many argue that gun laws only serve to hurt those gun owners who go through the proper legal channels to obtain their firearms, while criminals will continue to find easy ways to arm themselves.

So tell us your thoughts. Do you think stricter gun laws means fewer gun-related crimes? Do you think statewide legislation is enough to curb gun violence? Or is there something deeper at play which we must first address?

 

Original Bob’s: The Best Gun Range in Massachusetts

According to a federal study, Massachusetts had the lowest gun death rate in 2015. Much of that is attributed to the state’s tough gun laws. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, there were 213 gun deaths in the state in 2015.

John Rosenthal, cofounder and chairman of the Newton-based Stop Handgun Violence, said of these statistics that “gun laws work to reduce gun violence.” But for those looking to further their gun training, a good place to start would be a gun range. So for your sake we’re bringing information on the top Massachusetts gun range straight to you. Original Bob’s Shooting Range and Gun Shop located in Salisbury, MA. Here are just a few perks of Original Bob’s that might entice new and long time gun owners.

Massachusetts gun ranges are few and far between due to strict gun laws, but Original Bob's offers the whole experience
Massachusetts gun ranges are few and far between due to strict gun laws, but Original Bob’s offers the whole experience
  1. Only Public Gun Range in Massachusetts – Boasting one of the only public gun ranges in Massachusetts, Original Bob’s offers gun enthusiasts a safe space in which to test out their firearms. They also rent semi-automatic pistols, revolvers, and rifles for $10 each, according to their website. Renters are able to choose from a solid array of guns with which to test out in the shooting lanes.
  2. On-Site Gun Shop – As well as touting one of the only public ranges in Massachusetts, Original Bob’s also has an adjoining gun shop with tons of diverse inventory available for sale. From semi-automatic handguns to revolvers to rifles to shotguns, prospective gun owners are often able to find the exact gun to fit their firearm needs. Their prices also appeal to buyers from all sorts of economic backgrounds, with costs ranging from as low as $316 to $1849.
  3. Gun Use Trainers – Are you a first time gun operator? Well lay your anxieties to rest at Original Bob’s where on-site gun trainers are there to usher you through the process of renting and firing the guns in the shooting range. These same trainers offer customers private pistol lessons and gun safety classes as well. Whatever level of skill you might have upon entering Bob’s, their staff of experts and seasoned gun users will assist you in satisfying your gun ownership needs, as well show you everything from loading to disassembling your guns.
  4. Options for Unlicensed Customers – According to Original Bob’s website, unlicensed customers may rent and operate a firearm. The only restrictions state that you must be in a party of at least two customers. Moreover, all shooters must be at least 21 years of age with valid government issued IDs (i.e. driver’s license, military ID, passport). If an unlicensed guest is accompanying a licensed one, they must be at least 18 years or older with a valid government issued ID.

    In a state of with such strict gun laws as Massachusetts, Original Bob’s Public Shooting Range and Gun Shop offers one of the most unique gun-related experiences in the region. Whether you’re looking to buy your first firearm or shoot one of the more tried and true rifles in your locker, Original Bob’s offers you a wide array of experiences and expertise to deepen your knowledge as you seek a Massachusetts gun license.

The Historic Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts

The history of gun use in Massachusetts is as storied as America itself. Long before the Declaration of Independence was written, guns played an important role in American life. While gun control pervaded many echelons of English society, things were different in the New England colonies. In those times, no one needed a gun license. Rather it was quite the opposite.

History of Early Massachusetts Gun Laws

As far back as the late 17th century, colonial governments required its citizens to bear arms. In Massachusetts Bay, guns were readily available, and widely distributed among the population. In 1632, a Plymouth Colony statute ordered “that every freeman or other inhabitant of [the] colony provide for himselfe and each under him able to bear arms a sufficient musket and other serviceable peece for war.” With the looming threat of attack from indigenous tribes, citizens were required by law to undergo gun training, and in some cases, to carry it with them if they planned to travel farther than one mile from their own home. For many Americans nowadays, self defense is the primary reason for owning a gun. It’s powerful to know this principle has its roots more than three centuries ago.

Over a hundred years later, in the 1770s descent began to reach its fever pitch in the British colonies. In response, British Parliament passed the Coercive Acts. This came a year after the Boston Tea Party. These acts ordered a ban on the import of firearms into the colonies, as well as systematic confiscation of arms and gunpowder, and if necessary using violence to forcibly remove guns from the hands of colonists. In Pennsylvania, the Patriots of Lancaster issued a decree saying, “in the event of Great Britain attempting to force unjust laws upon us by the strength of arms, our cause we leave to heaven and our rifles.”

History of Massachusetts Gun Use
Americans have been bearing arms since the 17th century.

Around this time British officials came to realize that pretty much ever colonist over the age of 16 owned a musket and stock of gunpowder. Not only that, but by then gun ownership had been essentially mandatory, even among householders, for nearly a century. In order to quell rebellion in the colonies, the British did everything they could to disarm New England’s population. On September 1, 1774, 260 of General Thomas Gage’s soldiers sailed up the Mystic River and seized hundreds of barrels of powder from the Charlestown powder house. This came to be known as the “Powder Alarm.” In response, American revolutionaries declared that any attempt by the British to violently confiscate firearms from the colonists would be interpreted as an act of war. And that’s exactly what happened on April 19, 1775.

The Battles of Lexington and Concorde

At dawn on April 19, 1775, over 700 Redcoats marched from Boston to Lexington and Concord to seize arms. They were met by a militia of more than 200 patriots, ages 16 to 60–all of them carrying their own guns with few exception. Outnumbered, the militia at Lexington suffered major casualties and fell easily to the British army. They were less fortunate, however, at Concord. After unsuccessfully searching the town for munitions, the British began their march back toward Boston–where on Concord’s North Bridge, a massive town militia had gathered to drive them off. After only three minutes of gunfire, the Redcoats retreated.

While Concord wasn’t exactly a pivotal turn in the Revolutionary War, it provided a major morale boost to the colonists. More importantly, patriots began to realize that guerilla warfare would serve them well against British forces. Using their knowledge of the American terrain, militiamen overwhelmed the Redcoats, both in numbers and in combat style. Although the war raged on for a little less than a decade, the storied history of gun use in the American colonies proved pivotal for the revolutionaries. In the end, America gained her independence because of its well-armed militias spanning the eastern seaboard, and because of their sheer resolve to expertly bear their arms.

While gun use in Massachusetts looks a lot different today, and the government now discourages as opposed to encourages gun ownership among its populace, it is nonetheless important to know the role that firearms played in the birth of the United States.

 

 

What Do You Know About Gun Safety? A Primer on the Four Golden Rules

One of the most sacred laws of the land in America is the right to bear arms. It was with their guns that American revolutionaries fought against the tyranny of British rule. But that was 24o years ago. Nowadays people use guns for a variety of different reasons: hunting, self-defense, emergency preparedness, target practice, sporting pursuits. The list goes on.

But, as Americans are endowed with the right to bear arms, so too are we tasked with learning the ins and outs of gun safety. In 2015 alone, at least 141 deaths of minors were attributed to unintentional or accidental shootings, according to a nationwide review conducted by The Associated Press and USA TODAY Network. Moreover, each year the number of deaths by accidental shooting hovers somewhere around 500.

Hence why obtaining a gun license can be difficult and often discouraging. In order to encourage responsible gun use, lawmakers have taken steps to ensure that gun owners learn the necessary tenants of firearm safety. As in the state of Massachusetts, one must complete a state-approved firearms safety course before qualifying for a license.

As part of that course, you will most likely learn the four basic rules of gun safety. Though you might use your guns in a number of different ways, these four rules apply no matter who you are, no matter where you are, and no matter what you intend to do with your gun. If you make sure to follow these rules carefully and consistently, you can be certain you’ll never have a firearms accident. Fortunately for you, we’re going to present them here as a primer for any courses you will take in the future.

  • The First Universal Rule of Gun Safety:
    Always treat your gun as if it’s loaded. Or more simply, all guns are always loaded.

Now what does this mean exactly? It means treating every gun with the same respect that you’d treat a loaded gun, regardless of whether it’s loaded or not. In other words, you wouldn’t jokingly point your loaded rifle at your best friend’s face, so you obviously wouldn’t if it was unloaded. It doesn’t matter if you’ve checked or not. There may be a bullet hiding in the chamber. That’s why Rule Number One is so important, and why it precedes all the other rules. Because it means, no matter the situation, that we’re using our firearms with mindfulness and care.

  • The Second Universal Rule of Gun Safety:
    Never point the gun at something you’re not prepared to destroy.

This one’s pretty simple. It essentially states Rule One more clearly. No matter what you’re doing with your gun–whether you’re unloading it, correcting a jam, cleaning it, or showing it off to your friends–you must always be aware of which direction the muzzle is pointing. Even for something as basic as setting your gun down after use, make sure it’s pointing in a direction that won’t cause destruction or harm. Otherwise don’t pick it up in the first place.

  • The Third Universal Rule of Gun Safety:
    Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you have made the decision to shoot.

    As with every other moment of use, the decision to shoot should be approached with conscious attention and care. This rule is simple: keep your finger off the trigger and it won’t accidentally discharge. These days firearms are made so they won’t ‘just go off’ on their own. For anyone operating a gun, unless you’re engaging a target, their finger should be placed high on its frame–not on the trigger, not hovering near the trigger guard. And the definition of a target is equally simple: a target is anywhere you deliberately point a gun. If you’re not deliberately pointing a gun somewhere, your finger is high on the frame. That’s it.

  • The Fourth Universal Rule of Gun Safety:
    Be sure of your target and what’s behind it.

    It’s important to know that bullets can go through an intended target. Which means you must ensure that your target has a proper backdrop to receive fire. It seems obvious but you’d be surprised how many accidents happen when you’re not entirely aware of the environment surrounding your target. Whether you’re disassembling and cleaning a glock, or practicing on a makeshift shooting range (such as cans in your backyard), you have to make sure that, one: there isn’t anyone lurking behind the target or potentially in the line of fire, and two: that there’s a solid backstop behind it to absorb the bullet. You might be wondering what qualifies as a solid backstop. That depends entirely on what type of gun you’re operating, its power, and the kind of rounds you’re using. Buckshot, for example, will fall to rest with sufficient open space, whereas bullets from a hunting rifle could travel for miles without a solid surface to hit.

    So there you have it, the four universal rules of gun safety. Do not take these rules lightly. To quote from Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. Guns are some of the most powerful machines in the world, and so owning one is a serious responsibility. In order to ensure safe and proper use, always follow the four basic rules. As you go through a firearms safety course, you will probably go much deeper into the nuances of each rule. But for now maybe print this out and keep it handy whenever you pull your rifle off the rack.

    The Four Universal Rules of Gun Safety:

1. Treat all guns as if they are always loaded.
2. Never point the muzzle at anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

 

 

Compelling Reasons Why Gun Ownership and Right-to-Carry Should be Reconsidered

Numerous people are still advocating and pushing for a “constitutional right” to own and carry a gun, believing that more guns will result in fewer incidences of crime and violence. While the debate on this issue can be exhausting, it is best that feelings and assumptions be set aside when discussing this matter but an objective reasoning is used instead. Below are reasons why gun ownership and right-to-carry should be carefully reconsidered:

More Guns = High Rate of Gun Violence

Statistics reveal that in 2015 alone, the following gun-related violence have been recorded in the U.S.:

School shooting – 64 incidences, including occasions where no injuries were reported after a gun was fired.

Mass shooting (defined as a single shooting incident which results in the killing or injuring of four or more people) –  372 incidences, killing 475 people and injuring 1,870.

All shootings – 13, 286 people were killed and 26,819 were injured by firearms, which is approximately 1.4 million individuals.

It is important to note that the number of gun-related violence instances described above are so much higher compared to other highly-developed countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. In fact, from all the cases of murders in the U.S., 60% were carried out using guns, compared to only 10%, 18%, and 31% in the UK, Australia, and Canada, respectively.

Strong Correlation Between Household Firearm Ownership and Firearm Homicide Rates.

A study published in American Journal of Public Health in 2013 revealed that the number of gun-related deaths from homicide is grossly higher among states with higher rates of gun ownership; implying that gun ownership is an effective predictor of firearm homicide rate. Specifically, the rate of gun homicide increases by almost 1% for every percentage increase in gun ownership.

Other countries that shifted to a highly-restricted gun-access, like Australia, experienced a dramatic decline in the rate of murder.

When Australia introduced highly stringent gun control laws, including making the use of firearms in self-defense a crime, the said country’s gun homicide and suicide rates dramatically declined as well as the rate of murders and robberies. 

The reasons above are not mere suppositions but verifiable facts. Ultimately, it is best that the public base their opinion on hard facts rather than what “feels” or “seems” right, particularly if it means life and death of someone. If you do choose to own a gun, in the very least make sure you have a license to carry your gun in whatever state you reside.

Numbers Don’t Lie: Is a Weapon of Violence Able to Stop Violence?

For many years, pro-gun advocates have continuously encouraged and fought for the “right” of citizens to carry handguns, asserting that this will deter the occurrence of crimes. They believed and tried to convince the public that owning a gun will scare off criminals and help law-abiding citizens to protect themselves as well. In other words, they are contending that more guns would stop the violence especially if people take a gun license course to properly understand firearm safety.

These messages have resonated for years resulting in numerous people believing it. Nevertheless, it is important to note that just because this mantra has been accepted by many, does not automatically make it true. How can the mass availability of guns, a tool meant to injure, prevent the occurrence of crimes and violence? Objective studies and specific numbers should back up this claim.

What do the numbers say?
There are research studies that have been carried out to ascertain if gun ownership (including right-to-carry or RTC) is effective in deterring crimes and violence. While the results of early studies have remained inconclusive, new data collected in more than a decade revealed compelling results about the effects of RTC.

In general, the comprehensive study showed that the implementation of RTC laws is positively associated with the increase of violent crimes. Specifically, it was found that the 33 states in the country which adopted RTC laws experienced a significant increase in the rate of violent crimes. A careful analysis of the records within the 10-year period of RTC implementation versus the years wherein RTC laws have yet to be adopted showed that the rate of violent crimes increased by as much as 19% during the years of RTC implementation.

Does this support the claim that allowing citizens to carry guns will make for a more peaceful environment? No. At the end of the day, numbers do not lie. This means that it is critical that instead of believing the rhetoric and creative soundbites, people should look at existing facts and numbers.

Gun Control in Different Countries Around the World

Gun Control in Different Countries Around the World

The debate about gun control in America has never been at such an all-time high. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution provides for the right of the people to own and bear arms. It has been one of the founding principles of the country and has been a right many Americans want to keep. As much as people know about the gun control legislation in America, including Massachusetts gun laws, it is important to look at the laws in other countries so as to accurately compare and contrast ourselves.

Canada

Many analysts have viewed Canada’s gun control legislations as stricter when compared to those of the U.S. Just like Washington; Ottawa sets gun restrictions and regulations at a federal level where territories, provinces, and municipalities can emulate and supplement. The law requires that the gun owner should be at least 18 years old, pass a background check, and go through a public safety course.

Australia

The turning point for Australia’s gun control laws was during the Port Arthur massacre of April 1996 where a young man killed 35 people, and wounding 23 others. This was when the national government pushed for critical changes that banned both automatic and semi-automatic rifles, made licensing and ownership rules stricter. Today in Australia, to obtain a gun you need to show that you have a genuine need for a particular kind of gun and also take a firearm safety course.

Israel

Because military service is compulsory in Israel, guns are a part of Israel’s way of life. In agreement with the law, most 18-year olds are drafted into the military and receive weapon’s training. However, after being in service for two or three years, the Israelis are discharged and are required to follow civilian gun legislation.

To get a gun license in Israel, you need to be at least 21, speak some Hebrew, and must show a genuine reason to carry the firearm.

As compared to other countries, the U.S. seems to have more lax gun legislation as compared to other countries even after the slew of shootings that have killed and maimed hundreds. However, it is a constitutional right that has been debated upon severely and has been upheld regardless.

National Reciprocity for Concealed Carry under President Trump

National Reciprocity for Concealed Carry under President Trump

We May be Closer than You Think

 

With Republic control of the White House, Senate and House of Representatives there is a good chance of National Reciprocity becoming law.  What would life in America be like for law abiding gun owners if our gun permits were as easily honored for carry a concealed firearm as our driver’s licenses are today for operating a vehicle?  Carrying your favorite revolver anywhere under National Reciprocity would be easy and care-free right?  Not so fast!  We are a long ways away from what I would call easy and care free but we may be closer than you think.

 

There are two ways President Trump can make this happen.  One is to issue an Executive Order.  That would be fine for the next 4 or 8 years but the next President can undo an Executive Order with the mere stroke of a pen.  The second way is make National Reciprocity a law.  This is harder to achieve but much more difficult to undo by future Administrations so it has lasting power.  How can National Reciprocity become law?

 

  1. A U.S. Senator or Representative must first introduce a bill for national reciprocity.
  2. The introduced bill is assigned to a committee to be refined.
  3. That bill must pass its own portion of Congress; Senate or House of Representatives.
  4. Once passed, it must then pass the other portion of Congress in identical form.
  5. An agreed upon bill goes to the President to sign or veto. If signed the bill becomes law.

 

Sounds simple right? Not really.  That is a lot of people that must agree on a highly politically charged issue before the President has opportunity to decide.  However, we already have four bills related to national reciprocity introduced!

 

Senate / House Bill Name Latest Action
Senate S.498 Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2015 02/12/2015 Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
House of Representatives H.R. 923 Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2015 03/16/2015 Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.
House of Representatives H.R. 402 National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2015 02/05/2015 Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.
House of Representatives H.R. 986 Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2015 03/16/2015 Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.

Source: www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress

 

All four of these bills have been introduced and assigned to a committee.  None has passed the Senate or House yet.  However, two are at least aligned; S 498 in the Senate and H.R. 923 in the House of Representatives are identical bills.  This is encouraging to me.  At least they have identical bills that can move forward.  This takes care of step 4 above but still must be voted on and pass both the Senate and the House, publically registering votes (or no votes) on a political hot button.  One could reasonably guess that while these two bills appear “ready to go,” they have likely been sat on until after the election.

 

What would it take to move these forward?

Your action.  Pick up your cell phone right now and call both US Senator’s offices in Washington.  It takes 30 seconds.  How do I know that?  I just did it as I am writing this article.

 

Senator Ed Markey                         202-224-2742

Senator Elizabeth Warren            202-224-4543

 

Here is how the conversations went:

 

“Hi I’m___________ and I live in ______.  I’m calling to urge Senator ______ to support S498.  Will you please register that request?”

 

It’s that simple.  One office asked for my name, address and email account.  The other office asked for a clarification that I “support” the bill.  Fast, easy and they pay attention to phone calls more than emails.

 

Here is a challenge for you and your buddies.  One of you calls the Senators every Monday. One of you calls the Senators every Tuesday, etc.  Let them hear from the people!

 

Let’s assume the Senate and House bills on Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2015 both pass.  What does that look like?

 

The bill reads, essentially, that a valid license to carry shall be recognized in other states but the person must still play by the rules of the state they are in, not the rules of the state from which their license was issued.

 

Therefore, even if these bills pass and become law, those visiting Massachusetts are still going to have to play by the restrictive laws under which we all live (if you’re reading this as a MA resident).  How about that Glock with a 15 round magazine?  Probably not OK.  How about that Springfield XDS that is not on the Massachusetts Approved Firearm Roster?  Probably not OK…

 

When we travel outside of Massachusetts… did you know hollow point bullets are illegal in NJ?  I for one am not going to load target rounds when I’m carrying to protect my family so that’s a problem.  How about “gun-free zones” in different states?  Do you know them all? I don’t but I know I can look it up on www.handgunlaw.us .  Did you know New York City has different gun related laws than the rest of the state of New York?

 

Even with National Reciprocity it is still going to be restrictive and it is not going to be easy and care-free. But, I’ll take it.  I’ll take it with a smile on my face to at least move the pendulum a little bit back towards the original rights and freedoms our forefathers intended when they declared “… the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Massachusetts License To Carry In 3 Easy Steps

Massachusetts License to Carry in 3 Easy Steps

 

It takes a bit of time and a bit of money but, yes, you can get a License to Carry in MA in just a few steps.

 

Step 1: Attend a Basic Firearms Safety Course (about $95)

The basic safety courses are offered in a few places in the Boston metro area.  I took mine at MA Gun Safety in Woburn.  As gun permit applications continue to grow each year, there is often a wait of a month or so for an opening so plan ahead. This is a solid orientation to gun safety and MA gun laws.

 

You will learn how revolvers and semi-automatics operate, how to safely load a firearm, how to safely handle it, how to safely store it, etc.  You will learn about stove-pipes, hang fires and other malfunctions; what to do and what NOT to do when they happen.  You will learn about safely and legally transporting handguns and long guns.

 

All courses take a slightly different path according to the instructor’s experience but the above fundamental elements of safe handling and laws will all be covered.

 

What you will NOT learn is threat detection, draw and present techniques from concealed carry, using cover and concealment, tactical reloads, managing multiple threats, etc.  These courses are available, affordable, fun and they are EXTREMELY important.

 

Buying a guitar does not make you a musician.  Likewise, buying a handgun does not make you a Navy SEAL.  After you purchase your firearm, attend at least one training course to get you started in the practical use of your new tool.

 

Step 2: Apply for a License to Carry at your local law enforcement office (free to about $100)

When you have your date scheduled for the Basic Firearms Safety Course, call your local Police Department to request an appointment to apply for the LTC.  Yes, you will likely need an appointment and you may have to wait months to get it!  Welcome to Massachusetts.

 

I was on a three month waiting list at my local PD.  The appointment also required a $100 cash fee that was not refundable even if my license was denied.  Every city is a little different but this is one example for which you should be mentally prepared.  If you get a quick appointment and no processing fee, great!

 

You must present the original Basic Firearms Safety Course certificate.  You’ll be fingerprinted, photographed and your background will be checked.  References are also required.

 

A part of the process will include…

The big question:  Why are you applying for a firearms license?

The correct answer: “For all lawful purposes.”

 

Don’t try to over explain yourself.  “For all lawful purposes” is the terminology in Mass General Law Chapter 140, Section 131 that the people processing your application are familiar with.  Use their terminology and keep it simple.

 

Massachusetts is a “May Issue” state (most of northeast + California) as opposed to a “Shall Issue” state (rest of the country). May Issue means that the local Chief Law Enforcement Officer has the final say in whether or not you are granted your license even if you have a clean background.  He/She “may issue” your license and they may not.  Welcome to Massachusetts.

 

Step 3: Wait patiently

Once your application is in process there is nothing left to do but wait.  It may be just a couple weeks or it may take months.  My own experience was a 6 week wait.  When your license arrives you will go to the Police Department to pick it up.  It’s a plastic card similar to a driver’s license which is handy because you will want to keep this license in your wallet if you carry.  You will also need to present it when you go purchase your first firearm and every time you buy ammo.

 

Along with the license you will also receive a PIN which is required when your purchase a firearm.  It is just as valuable and needs to be safeguarded as the PIN to your bank account so keep it secure.

 

So, after a couple hundred bucks and likely 3 or 4 months of processing, you can finally go purchase your first firearm!  Not exactly what our founding fathers had in mind when they documented “… the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” but there is at least still a pathway to get there!  Again, welcome to Massachusetts.

 

Good luck and welcome to the great community of gun owners!

 

Check out www.handgunlaw.us for more details on the process and laws in Massachusetts.  This is an excellent resource.