Court sticks to its guns, once again upholds state firearm licensing laws

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today nothing the Supreme Court has said invalidates the state's requirements for gun permits, so people can't just go out and buy guns willy-nilly.

The ruling is the latest in legal volleying between our highest court and the US Supreme Court over the Second Amendment. Last year, the SJC ruled the Second Amendment doesn't apply to states. Does, too, the Supreme Court countered. Specifically, the Supreme Court vacated Jason Loadholt's conviction for illegal gun possession and ordered the SJC to think things over.

The SJC thought it over and concluded that while the Supreme Court has decided the Second Amendment includes state jurisdictions, its recent Second Amendment decisions do not rule out regulations on the possession of guns. So Massachusetts gun-control laws - which require a permit or license to own or carry a firearm - still apply, and Loadholt had no business challenging the constitutionality of the laws because he never sought a permit in the first place.

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    Comments

    I don't get it.

    What is so bad about having to apply for a permit to have a gun? I myself have no problem at all providing documentation, or submitting to background checks, in order to obtain a permit.

    I also don't see why certain people feel strict gun laws are so important. Criminals are going to get guns with or without permits. If someone gets beat nearly to death with a stick, or shot with a gun, the person administering the abuse is going to be in trouble both ways.

    permit problems

    One problem is that forcing people to get a permit means that it is harder to get a gun, and that it takes longer. If, say, a woman's intimate partner just threatened her life and poses a real threat NOW, getting through the onerous, expensive, and months-long permitting process, even to get an LTC-restricted that allows only purchase but not concealed carry, could get her killed. (I mention women because women tend to be physically smaller than men, and so tend to be at a disadvantage in a physical confrontation. Once a woman is armed with a firearm, she is probably at a slight advantage, since she will typically be a smaller target than a male would be and has the means to keep an attacker at a distance where the phenotypical differences between sexes can't be taken advantage of by said attacker.)

    Besides such pragmatic concerns, there is the principled objection: People shouldn't have to get permits to exercise their basic human rights. No permits should be required to engage in political, religious, or artistic speech, and no permits should be required to lawfully acquire the technological means to defend your life.

    How does that

    Situation apply to gun safety and responsible use?

    Seems rather shortsighted to hand over a gun to an emotional victim, without much training in it's use or safety, to justify something that may or may not happen. And what difference would it make, that taking other proactive steps wouldn't?

    "Ticking time bombs" are never good justification on why we should do something, and this is just another version of that.

    Arbitrary licensing

    Arbitrary licensing is a big problem in the Commonwealth.

    You could be a fine, upstanding person and get a permit in Arlington or Quincy. That same person would not get the same permit in Brookline or Boston. The Chief can deny your request for any reason. He may not like your haircut, or you have too many speeding tickets, or he may just not like guns.

    Imagine if your drivers license could be denied because you someone didn't like the

    training requirements violate rights

    Anon, forcing people to undergo some sort of state-approved training before exercising a basic civil right is unjust. It is the threat of state-sponsored violence against people who are doing things that they have a natural, human right to do.

    Government doesn't require training before starting a family, before engaging in religious or political speech, before telling a cop "no" when he asks to search your car, or other things that all human beings ought to be able to do in a just, free society.

    I worked as a weapons instructor at a Boy Scout camp for two summers. I've had military weapons training. I have worked in a gun store. I've written several firearms-related articles. I could quite easily go get my NRA certification as an instructor and personally benefit from the regulatory regime that is in place in MA and other states that require training in order to qualify for a permit to purchase or permit to carry. But despite my own personal financial interests, I have a greater stake in justice, and justice requires that we oppose laws that victimize people when they aren't doing anything wrong. A person who acquires a firearm for any non-aggressive purpose (self-defense, target shooting, hunting, aesthetic enjoyment, or whatever) is doing nothing wrong. Such a person should not face kidnapping and enslavement by state thugs.

    Furthermore, the training, shooting test, gun club membership, etc. that are required to acquire an LTC in some MA jurisdictions mean that poor people, including a disproportionate number of minorities, who have to deal with higher crime rates in their neighborhoods are at even greater risk than your average joe. If we want to really put an end to street violence, end the war on drugs (the policies that are almost entirely responsible for funding modern gangs) and get rid of stupid gun laws that prevent potential victims from arming themselves.

    I sincerely don't mean to be

    I sincerely don't mean to be sarcastic here, but I have never understood how guns can flow with seamless ease to hypothetical criminals, yet the hypothetical woman who invariably turns up in these scenarios can't get her hands on a firearm illegally to save her life, and has no other means of self-defense whatsoever. Or, for that matter, escape.

    Granted, I do feel Massachusetts is unnecessarily restrictive when it comes to less-lethal weapons, and I do feel that's a genuine problem, but we're talking guns here.

    Also, and this is a pedantic point, owning a firearm doesn't actually come under the heading of "human rights" as they're defined by any body I'm aware of.

    access to guns anyway? of course!

    Dan, first let me say that I appreciate your friendly, civil manner. Very refreshing!

    I am sure that some potential victims might be able to acquire a firearm illegally, but the problem there is that by doing so, such a victim is exposed to violence from another quarter--from government thugs. The question isn't whether is it possible to get around government prohibitions--obviously it is possible. After all, illegal drugs make their way into prisons. Boston isn't going to keep guns out. (They can't even keep illicit guns out of Manhattan, an island!) That is what makes the extremely onerous permitting process even sillier--it is just a hindrance to people who want to abide by the law, not so much to people who aren't concerned with such formalities. The result is that people with more of an appetite for risk are the ones who are armed, and the people who are more careful and prudent are not nearly as likely to be.

    As far as some "official" organization recognizing self-defense as a basic human right, why does this matter? It only matters if you are a legal positivist who believes that any rights enjoyed by humans are the result of grants from a sovereign rather than some inborn characteristic. Homosexuals had a "right" to defend themselves against cops who were kidnapping them for violating sodomy laws, even though this right was not recognized by the powers that be. Same thing with anti-Jim Crow protesters. Same thing with the Black Panthers who marched on the California state capitol while openly carrying arms (a reaction to the supposedly "small government" Reagan instituting draconian, racist gun control laws in California; see http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/0...).

    With that said, though, some governments, including the United States federal government and almost every state government, have formally recognized the right to keep and bear arms as a human right. Sharia Law also recognizes a basic right to arms. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_keep_and_bea...)

    You can read one scholar's analysis of this question here: http://davekopel.com/2A/LawRev/The-Human-Right-of-...

    Oh, Jesus, I should have

    Oh, Jesus, I should have known better.

    Come back and talk to me when you understand the following:

    * How human rights are determined and what a human rights abuse actually is.

    * The history of the right to bear arms as a philosophical discussion.

    * That owning a weapon and the right to self-defense are not the same thing.

    * How police deal with domestic violence situations.

    * How firearms are actually distributed and used illegally.

    * What an appeal fallacy is.

    Again, not sarcasm: did you even read the links you provided?