A flintlock "Brown Bess" musket hangs on the wall above my grandfather's office door at his home in Concord, Massachusetts. It's been there as long as I can remember, probably since before I was born. When I was a young boy, I remember asking my grandfather "what's that?", pointing up at the gun, which then was almost twice as long as I was at the time. In characteristic fashion for my grandfather, he told matter-of-factly: "It's a musket. It's why we are free." To him, the issue was settled, but I was fascinated by his cryptic remarks.
A few years afterward, I took my first shots behind a well-worn .22 rifle, and since then I have had many more opportunities to shoot and improve my marksmanship skills, including civilian training and service in the U.S. Marine Corps. I know I'm never too old to learn, and I know that getting the most that the Second Amendment has to offer involves learning from others and accepting their help. Marksmanship and shooting sports has become a passion of mine, and I find myself, as an attorney, in a position to help those that want to protect themselves, their families and their freedoms.
My grandfather's words did not findtheir meaning with me until many years later when I learned that freedom is not free. Although firearms have won and protected our liberties, work and vigilance in the law is often just as important in securing and protecting our individual freedoms.
Applying for an LTC or FID is a detail-oriented procedure that, if handled improperly, can be extremely detrimental for future gun licensing matters. If you are ever denied a gun license, license to carry, LTC/A or FID, each and every time you seek to reapply or renew your license, you must disclose that you were once denied a license. Since handgun licenses are issued at the discretion of the issuing agency, it is not implausible that such a denial could harm your chances of renewing a license, or removing restrictions from an existing license. It's a safe bet to say that you are better off "getting it right the first time." Attorney Trask is familiar with the Massachusetts Firearm Licensing requirements and procedures, and will assist you in the preparation of your LTC or FID application and supporting documentation, if required by your licensing officer.
Massachusetts Law permits an individual denied a license to carry because of certain misdemeanors to appeal to the Firearms Licensing Review Board. In 1998, the Massachusetts Legislature established new criteria for disqualifying citizens for gun licenses. Among other criteria, the conviction of any misdemeanor punishable by more than two years (even if no jail time was ever served) was grounds for the denial of a gun license. However, in 2004, the legislature established the Firearms License Review Board (FLRB) to evaluate denied applications for certain misdemeanor convictions.
A first conviction of operating a motor vehicle under the influence would result in the loss of your ability to own a handgun for life and a shotgun or rifle for a minimum of five years. This FLRB is able to review cases under limited circumstances to restore licenses to individuals who meet certain criteria.
Attorney Trask can assist you in evaluating if a petition for review before the Firearms License Review Board may be appropriate and effective as a means to restore or grant a firearms license.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts places certain restrictions on who may own, possess, or carry a firearm or ammunition. However, if you have a clean mental health record and clean criminal history, you should not be denied your right to possess a firearm. Nevertheless, denials can and do happen for any number of reasons. Some denials may be administrative - the licensing authority is not doing his or her job, or your application was completed or processed improperly. Other denials may represent an arbitrary decision to deny your application by the licensing authority, notwithstanding your statutory eligibility.
Massachusetts Law permits the judicial review of a firearms license denial or revocation in district court. If you can successfully prove that the denial was "arbitrary" or "capricious", the Court can overturn the denial of your license to carry. A petition for judicial review in District Court must be made within 90 days of the denial of your license application. Although you may receive a formal notice of your denial, the law provides that if you do not receive your license 40 days from your date of application, you can assume you are denied and file a petition for judicial review.
If you believe you were improperly denied your license to carry, Attorney Trask can assist you in appealing the denial, suspension or revocation of your license to carry in District Court. Please contact Attorney Matthew P. Trask at 508.655.5980 for more information.
If you have attempted to purchase a firearm through a licensed FFL, the dealer will complete a form ATF 4473, and will perform a NICS check with the FBI to ensure you are not a "Federally Prohibited Person" as defined in the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (18 U.S.C. § 922(g)). The information supplied on form ATF 4473 will be run through millions of electronic records in state and federal databases to see if the person trying to buy the firearm meets one of nine different categories of reasons for which federal law would prohibit them from being in possession of a firearm.
These electronic databases are updated often, and can contain incomplete or inaccurate information, which results in many people who have had guns all their lives and never realized they were supposed to be prohibited under one of these nine categories of the federal gun control law suddenly divested of their right to possess firearms.
If you receive a Brady Denial, there are some steps you must follow:
First, don't panic, and try not to get angry. Second, get the transaction number and the contact information for where to write to get the statement of reasons for your denial. Both of these items can be obtained from the dealer. When you get home, write that letter - clear, brief, and polite - asking for the statement of reasons for the denial.
A Brady denial means it is illegal for you to be in possession of any firearms, even those you already own at home. If you want to avoid possible seizure and forfeiture of your guns, get them into storage with either an FFL or transferred to a friend or relative who you know is legal to possess firearms and who agrees to hold them and not let you have them until your situation is resolved. You may need to memorialize this transfer on an FA-10 or E-FA-10, if you are in Massachusetts. Once you get your guns safe and receive the statement of reasons for your denial, you should contact an attorney who is familiar with the field of firearms law.
The National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1936 has been the primary source of federal regulation for "Class 3" weapons such as automatic firearms, suppressors, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns and destructive devices. While owning a firearm is a fundamental right for a United States citizen and is recognized by the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution, the regulations imposed by the National Firearms Act provide for a regulatory framework that must be properly navigated to ensure that the possessor of Class 3 items holds them legally. Currently, the ATF application to possess a Class 3 item requires the involvement of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the applicant's city or town. The lack of willingness of various Chiefs to cooperate with applicants in obtaining these legal devices has prevented many individuals from obtaining Class 3 items.
There is, however, a solution: Provided that the Class 3 item you seek to possess is legal under state law and you possess the proper state licenses, a citizen may create what is commonly referred to as a "NFA Gun Trust" where the possession of regulated NFA weapons (Class 3 firearms) may be obtained. Although this is a legal instrument which must be properly drafted to be valid, there is no requirement for the Chief Law Enforcement Officer to participate in the application process.
Attorney Trask can assist you in preparing an NFA Gun Trust that suits your needs and goals, and can advise you in the purchase and/or acquisition of Class 3 items to ensure your compliance with both state and federal law.
The Massachusetts firearms laws are some of the most complex and restrictive in the United States. If you have questions about Massachusetts Firearms Laws, compliance issues, or any other firearm-related question, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Trask. If you are charged with violating the Massachusetts firearms laws, ignorance of the law will be no excuse. Get your questions answered beforehand, and stay safe and out of trouble.