Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

Checks and Balances? Massachusetts Executive Branch Flouts Court Orders on Firearms Licenses

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Checks and Balances? Massachusetts Executive Branch Flouts Court Orders on Firearms Licenses

The U.S.’s republican form of governance is predicated on co-equal branches of government that check and balance each other in order to preserve individual liberty. The system does not work when one branch simply ignores the lawful authority of another branch.

In Massachusetts, all prospective firearm owners are required to obtain a Firearms Owner Identification card or a License to Carry. Both licenses require applicants to submit to significant training requirements and a background check. Moreover, the licenses are may-issue, with local law enforcement retaining significant discretion over who may or may not obtain a license.

In 2004, the state instituted the Firearms Licensing Review Board. The law provides that a person denied a firearms license due to certain misdemeanor convictions punishable by up to two and a half years imprisonment may appeal the denial to the Firearms Licensing Review Board. The Firearms Licensing Review Board is vital to Massachusetts gun owners, as many nonviolent misdemeanors in Massachusetts are punishable by up to two and a half years in prison. For instance, a first conviction for operating under the influence is punishable by up to 30 months imprisonment in the Bay State.

Under federal law, a person is prohibited from possessing firearms if they have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime punishable by more than two years in prison. Therefore, under federal law, many convicted of minor non-violent offenses in Massachusetts have not only lost their right to obtain a state-issued LTC or FID card, but also their right to possess a firearm anywhere in the country.

Worse, ATF maintains a very stringent definition of when a person’s right to possess a firearm has been restored under federal law following a conviction. It is ATF’s opinion that Massachusetts’s Firearms Licensing Review Board procedure does not comport with their crabbed interpretation of federal law. Citing the ATF interpretation of the law, the executive branch has refused to process the licenses of individuals cleared to possess firearms by the Firearms Licensing Review Board.

Several of the individuals that have been cleared by the Firearms Licensing Review Board have appealed to the state courts over the state’s continued refusal to issue them a firearms license. According to the Boston Globe, in at least seven cases the prospective gun owners have won their appeals and a judge has ordered that they be issued a state firearms license. As explained by Lowell District Judge Ellen M. Caulo, in failing to heed the determination of the Firearms Licensing Review Board, Massachusetts law enforcement had relied on an “incorrect interpretation of the law.”

In a complete breakdown of the U.S. system of government, Massachusetts’s executive branch has defied orders issued by the state’s judicial branch and continued to deny the licenses that the courts have ordered them to issue. According to the Globe report, “Daniel Bennett, Baker’s public safety secretary, told local police chiefs… that the state intends to block certain licenses from being reinstated, even if ordered by a judge.” In what some might view as encouragement to commit contempt of court, the Globe reported that the Baker administration has told local law enforcement officials that if they are ordered by a judge to issue a firearms license to an individual the executive branch has deemed prohibited, the local official should submit the prospective gun owner’s paperwork to the state, where “officials would refuse to process it.” The administration is demanding that local officials disobey a direct court order.

As the Globe reported, Milford District Court Judge Robert B. Calagione, who had ordered the issuance of a firearms license, explained that the state’s position “exceeded the scope of its statutory authority.” Moreover, the judge noted that the administration’s interpretation obstructed the legislature’s intent in establishing the Firearms Licensing Review Board. In ruling for another prospective gun owner, District Court Judge Michael D. Brennan explained that the administration’s position was erroneous and that a local law enforcement official’s “reliance on it was erroneous, arbitrary and capricious.”

The current events in Massachusetts are not only an affront to gun owners, but an affront to all those who value the American system of ordered liberty. It is really quite simple: the legislative branch creates the law, the executive branch executes the law, and the judicial branch interprets the law. The executive branch does not have the authority to simply disregard a court order just because it disagrees with the court’s reasoning.

IN THIS ARTICLE
Massachusetts Firearms License
TRENDING NOW
“[A]ll We Need You to Do is Give us the Gun”: U.K. Launches National Firearm Surrender Campaign

News  

Monday, May 23, 2022

“[A]ll We Need You to Do is Give us the Gun”: U.K. Launches National Firearm Surrender Campaign

On March 12, a two-week campaign was launched in the United Kingdom to encourage subjects of Her Majesty the Queen to surrender firearms, ammunition, weapons, and any other object even vaguely reminiscent of a gun ...

Choke Point “Lite”

News  

Monday, May 23, 2022

Choke Point “Lite”

Ten years ago, the Obama Administration introduced “Operation Choke Point,” a program to weaponize the banking industry and financial service providers against certain lawful businesses and merchants. Implemented by Eric Holder’s Department of Justice and ...

ATF Partners with Anti-gun Researchers to Expand Agency’s Power

News  

Monday, May 23, 2022

ATF Partners with Anti-gun Researchers to Expand Agency’s Power

On May 17, the Department of Justice announced the release of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives publication titled the National Firearms in Commerce and Trafficking Assessment (NFCTA). The report is the result of the ...

President Donald J. Trump to Address NRA Members at the 2022 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Houston, Texas

News  

Thursday, May 12, 2022

President Donald J. Trump to Address NRA Members at the 2022 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Houston, Texas

Former President Donald J. Trump will headline the 2022 NRA-ILA Leadership Forum on May 27, at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

New Jersey: “Mandatory Jail” Bill Scheduled for Senate Hearing Thursday

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

New Jersey: “Mandatory Jail” Bill Scheduled for Senate Hearing Thursday

Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., the Senate Law & Public Safety Committee is scheduled to consider S.513, legislation which would create a rebuttable presumption of no bail for gun offenses.

California: Anti-Gun Bills Eligible for Floor Votes

Saturday, May 21, 2022

California: Anti-Gun Bills Eligible for Floor Votes

On Thursday, both the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees took up their suspense files prior to the fiscal deadline, passing a number of anti-gun bills and one pro-hunting bill. These bills will now be eligible ...

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

News  

Friday, April 1, 2022

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

Half the country will now enjoy the freedom to carry a handgun for self-defense without a permit from the state thanks to the tireless efforts of men and women of the National Rifle Association. 

Alaska: Legislature Fails to Pass Pro-2A Legislation as it Adjourns

Friday, May 20, 2022

Alaska: Legislature Fails to Pass Pro-2A Legislation as it Adjourns

At midnight on Wednesday, the Alaska Legislature adjourned from its 2022 Legislative Session. 

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.