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.

 

 

Do You Have the Training You Need? And How Do You Really Know?

Buying a guitar does not make you a rock star.  Likewise, buying a gun does not make you a Navy SEAL.  There are more than 100 million legal gun owners in the U.S. and I’ll bet less than half of us are properly trained to do what we think we can do with a gun.

What do you think you can do with a gun?  And how do you know?  Have you completed training prepared and presented by an experienced professional?  Do you have a gun licenseHave you visualized the scenario you think you can overcome so that your every move is already thought through, and when something does not work, you’ve visualized an alternate action as well?  Have you practiced enough that you can load, reload, clear a malfunction and reload again in the dark, operating entirely by feel because you know your gun so well?

Tom Gresham of GunTalk Media describes it in a way I like very much.  In my own paraphrase, he says we ought to be able to operate our guns with the same level of familiarity as we operate our cars.  When we get into our car, we buckle the seat belt, put it into gear and operate the steering wheel, accelerator, brake, clutch and turn signals all without ever looking at any of them.  We know it by feel and we don’t even think consciously about the actions we’re taking.  We just do it.  Can you operate your guns like that?  If not, perhaps some training is in order.

Chris Sajnog, Navy SEAL Firearms Instructor (retired), literally wrote the book, and the rest of the program, on firearms training for our SEAL Snipers.  He would tell you, again in my paraphrase, that top performance comes from completing an action correctly so many times that your neural pathways have created a groove so that when you take the action, your body follows that groove without having to think through it.  You just do it.

Consider the five training levels outlined below that follow a training path along the line of practical handgun shooting. If we define “functional” as able to perform consistently well without having to think about it, at which level do you start to think, “I’m not so sure I’m really functional at that level?”

1. Basic Firearms Safety: I am functional with a proper understanding of how my guns operate, I can properly load and unload, I understand proper storage of my guns and ammo, I know the four fundamental rules of safe firearms handling and practice them consistently.

2. Fundamentals of Shooting: I am functional with the key aspects of shooting; a proper stance, draw, grip, sight picture, breathing, trigger control and follow through. (Yes, all 7 count! And Chris Sajnog would add an 8th of sight refinement following sight picture!) I do dry fire training.  I practice visualizing what I want to accomplish with a firearm (the body won’t go where the mind has never been…).

3. Practical Handgun Shooting: I can identify a threat. I can identify cover and concealment (and know the difference).  I can move then shoot.  I am functional with tactical reloads. I am functional clearing a malfunction.

4. Advanced Practical Handgun Shooting: I can function when confronted with multiple threats.  I can shoot while moving to cover.  I am functional communicating with an armed team-mate during a gun fight.  I am functional shooting with my support hand.

5. Scenario Based Training: I have participated in live force-on-force training. I am functional in a number of practical shooting scenarios due to live training experience and/or visualization through scenarios such as; a mass murderer in a church sanctuary, a parking lot kidnapping, a home invasion by two armed would-be murderers and other life threatening scenarios.

At what level are you able to perform consistently well without having to think through each action?  Be honest. 

OK, now you know where you are.  Congratulations!  So, where do you want to go and how do you get there?  Since you’re reading this article you’d probably like to be a Level 4 or 5 shooter.  Let’s walk through the different training approaches to consider and then I’ll offer my personal recommendations for the best training material from Level 1 to Level 5.

Books, Videos, Live Instruction and the Discipline of Practice

Books & Videos

A lot can be gained from books and videos.  A well done book or video can teach the principles to help us “get it” when we enter a new territory of learning.  Please keep three things in mind however, when it comes to books and videos.

1. Someone who can do it is not necessarily a good teacher.  We need teachers who can help us understand and develop the skills we need.  A good demonstrator and a good teacher are not always the same.

2. Don’t be a YouTube Commando.  We can pick up some interesting tips here and there along the YouTubeisphere but much of what’s posted is just someone showing off.  That is not a learning event – it is entertainment.  Be cautious of the difference.

3. Books and videos by professionals are generally well worth it.  Amateurs post videos to share their knowledge (or entertain) but professionals write books.  Many professionals then also create videos to supplement their well thought out written material with helpful visuals.  Stick with the pros.

Live Instruction

While a lot can be gained from books and videos, nothing beats live instruction.  Where books and videos can help us understand a concept, live training makes it tactile and, let’s face it, shooting is extremely tactile.  Our level of functionality increases exponentially when we get our hands on the gear and have a professional observe and correct us.

That professional instructor does require more money than any book.  The financial hurdle of getting into a good training course affects most of us at some level.  With this in mind I have two questions for you.  How important is it to you to be fully functional in protecting your family?  Can you bear having to say, “Kids, I’m sorry I couldn’t protect your Mom.  I just couldn’t come up with the money to learn how to handle it any better.” 

Yes, I know that’s a painful and extreme scenario but our topic is extreme isn’t it?  Every time a murderer invades a home and takes a life, that above comment could be spoken by a survivor.  Don’t let that be your family!  Make the time.  Find the money. Instead of buying another gun, buy some training instead!

A lot of training is actually quite affordable anyway.  For those of us in New England, the go-to place is Sig Sauer Academy.  Have you ever heard the rumor, “Oh I’d love to go to Sig Sauer but it’s like $1,500 for a course.”  I’ve heard that one many times and it is complete bologna.  They have multiple practical shooting, concealed carry, close quarters combat courses, and others, in which you can spend a day with an instructor in a small class for $500 or less, including the ammo!  If you want to spend a week you can go from Level 1 firearms basics on Monday and by Friday you’re doing advanced drills.  Now that will take you to somewhere closer to $1,500 but you blaze through multiple levels in a very short time.  Personally, I think it’s better to take a one or two day course at a time because you will learn things that you need to practice before moving on to another level.  This brings us to the final portion on the discipline of practice.

The Discipline of Practice

“Pave your Path to Perfection” is the concept and slogan we hear from Chris Sajnog for those of us who are familiar with his training material (and if you’re not, you should be!).  When we have practiced our draw correctly and perfectly so many times that a physical pathway is developed in our neural system (sometimes referred to as muscle memory) we become functional as defined above; doing it correctly and smoothly without having to think through it.  We need a functional draw, a functional sight picture, a functional trigger pull, etc.  Becoming functional in these actions requires the discipline of practice.

I recently took a practical handgun, one-day course at Sig Sauer Academy and came away with a couple key things I knew needed improvement; grip and tactical reloads.  Using the concepts I learned from Sajnog’s book, Navy SEAL Shooting, I worked through the disciple of practice:

Bought hand grips to strengthen my hands and forearms and solidify my grip.

Dry fire practiced with a perfect hand placement on the holstered pistol up to presentation with a focus on grip and support hand placement.

Did the above with my smart phone video at the range so I could see from an objective point of view exactly what was happening and make corrections.

Completed many slow and perfect repetitions from draw to presentation.

That was my range session that day.  No ammo fired.

The next week I did all the same things but the focus was on tactical reloads.  Again, just slow perfect repetition.  For this I did use ammo only because I wanted to include the slide lock in my neural pathway development.

The next week, I brought out the targets and ammo to confirm my improved grip and reload skills, having also continued to strengthen my hands with the grip exercises.  As expected, I experienced massively improved accuracy!  I now “naturally” grip my every-day-carry pistol with greater control and stability than ever before.  I don’t even think about it.

This is not a “hooray for me” boast but only an example of the effectiveness of disciplined practice under the guidance of a professional. If I can do it, believe me, anyone can do it!

How to Get There

I’ve heard it said that there is no such thing as advanced firearms training, only the basics mastered and applied to different situations.  I agree with this.  However, for the purposes of clarifying training recommendations at increasing levels of experience, I am going to organize recommendations into 5 levels anyway.  The below resources are personal favorites and I am confident you will find them just as valuable as I do.

Books & Videos Live Instruction Discipline of Practice
Level 1 New Rules of Marksmanship Basic Firearms Safety

Live Shooting w/Instructor

Handgun Orientation

Memorize the 4 rules

Learn your gun’s locks and levers blind folded (no ammo of course!)

Level 2 Navy SEAL Shooting

New Rules of Marksmanship

Chris Sajnog.com

Basic Practical Handgun Skills Dry fire the 7 steps slowly and perfectly

Visualization

Level 3 Navy SEAL Shooting

Fighting with the 1911

ChrisSajnog.com

Practical Handgun 103

Practical Handgun 104

Dry fire the 7 steps slowly and perfectly

IDPA competition

Visualization

Level 4 Navy SEAL Shooting

Concealed Carry 1&2

ChrisSajnog.com

Concealed Carry Dry fire the 7 steps slowly and perfectly

IDPA competition

Visualization

Level 5 First Person Defender

Target Focus Training Videos

Close Quarters Combat, Low Light, more…

Martial Arts: Sport fighting is not combat but it will bring most of us much closer to where we need to be. Join a club!

Visualization of personal scenarios in YOUR life.  For three days at the top of the hour ask, “What would I do if I were attacked right where I am now?


Level 5 scenarios include knowing how to fight without a firearm.  We all need to know how to fight for protection purposes when a gun is not available.  If it’s not in your hand, it’s not your primary weapon!  This is another scenario I believe rightly fits into Level 5.

So what will you do now?  You know where you are in this 5 level structure, you have multiple resources laid out for you.  It is up to you to decide what is the right level for you to pursue and then to take a small step toward gaining that training right now.  Click a link and buy a book or sign up for a training class.  Get started right now!  Go for it!

Stay safe and enjoy the training journey!

Rob Eggeman

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.

Yes, You CAN Carry Outside MA (with the right license)!

Traveling in today’s climate is dangerous.  From robbery to car-jackings to lone-wolf terror attacks and everything in between, you never know what could happen when you’re traveling.

Did you know that for less than a hundred bucks you can get one license that permits you to legally carry in 31 states?

Yes, you can carry outside Massachusetts with a Utah Non-Resident License!
Get the License – Be ready!

Sign up for the 1-day, 1 class, 1-license that allows you to legally keep your favorite handgun with you to keep your family safe when you travel throughout most of the U.S.

 How does this work?

Being able to legally carry in other states is based on three pieces to the puzzle.  The reciprocity piece, the “shall” v. “may” issue policy piece and one special scenario I’ll tell you about a little further down.

First, let’s deal with reciprocity…

Unlike Massachusetts, Utah has reciprocity, a formal agreement, to recognize gun permits with many other states.  Those same states formally agree to also recognize Utah’s gun permits.  Being armed while in those states is legally accepted.  That’s reciprocity in a nutshell.

As for every state’s policy of “shall issue” or “may issue”, Utah offers a Non-Resident License under their “shall issue” approval policy even to residents of states that do not offer reciprocity (very fortunate for us in the Bay State)!  This means if you meet the requirements, Utah “shall issue” the license to you. This is quite different from Massachusetts “may issue” where the local chief law enforcement official has discretion to issue, or not to issue, your requested license.

So, what is special about Utah?

Good question.  Here is an excerpt from the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification:

 “Do I have to be a Utah resident to obtain a concealed firearm permit?

No. Any U.S. citizen or legal resident (with the intent to reside in the United States) may obtain a Utah concealed firearm permit, providing they meet the minimum qualifications.”

Sounds easy right? But here’s the tricky part…you have to attend a Firearms class from a Certified Utah Firearms Instructor.  Luckily for you, Mass Gun Safety has Certified Instructors!!!

 Put together the three puzzle pieces of reciprocity, shall issue policy, and a Certified Utah Firearms Instructor, and you have the ability to carry in 31 states!

Now that you know how it works, how does it apply to YOU?

  • Visiting the Grand Canyon (AZ) or Mount Rushmore (SD)?
  • Taking a vacation down south this winter in Alabama, Georgia or the Outer Banks (NC)?
  • Taking your spouse to the Kentucky Derby?
  • Traveling through the heartland of Ohio, Indiana, or Missouri?
  • Taking your grandkids to rodeos in Texas or Oklahoma?
  • Visiting historical Colonial sites in Virginia?

 

That’s only a sample of all the states covered by the Utah Non-Resident License.  Check out the full list:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming. 

This class is also useful when applying for Non-Resident permits in Maine and Florida!

Now that you know this valuable license is available and where to get one, it is time to decide if you’re going to take action!

 Utah Non-Resident License will allow you to legally carry a handgun in 31 states.  It is the single most widely accepted license available in the nation.

Get the license – Be ready!

 Step 1   Click here to sign up for the class.

Step 2   Follow our instructions to complete the process.

Step 3   Wait for Utah to verify your requirements.

Step 4   Receive the license and legally carry in 31 states beyond Massachusetts!