Men convicted of illegal weapons possession to get new trial because their gun might have been an antique

The Supreme Judicial Court today ordered new trials for Liquarry Jefferson and Leslie Burton-Brown, convicted in 2009 of illegal weapons possession for a gun police and state troopers said they threw out a car window during a chase along Melville Avenue in Dorchester.

The court said their trial judge erred in refusing to let them argue the gun was manufactured before 1900, which would have made it an "antique" exempt from state gun-control laws, even though a police expert found it could still fire rounds.

[T]he defendants were denied the opportunity to raise this affirmative defense before the jury and argue that, if the Commonwealth failed to prove that the firearm was manufactured after 1899, the defendants should be found not guilty of the offenses predicated on the unlawful carrying of a firearm. The judge's ruling also meant that the Commonwealth was not required to rebut this affirmative defense to prevail at trial, and therefore did not need either to present evidence regarding the manufacturing date of the firearm or to challenge the expert's testimony that the firearm was manufactured in 1896.

The verdict is a rare bit of legal good news for Jefferson, who has a lengthy record of violent crimes and whose son, also named Liquarry, died in 2007, when accidentally shot by his cousin.

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Well

So all I need to do is find a revolver made before 1899 and I have a LTC? Fun times.

Now, I don't expect dumb criminals to catch on, but it seems this is one huge loophole for revolvers.

As for me, time to go find a flintstock. I'll test out the law next time the Brazilian president is in town.

I'm not sure Adam.

I'm pretty sure Antique firearms are still illegal to possess in public without an LTC. (The Bibby case made antique black power rifles and shotguns exempt). This ruling has too much legal jargon for my limited knowlege, but it seems that the case is getting a new trial because of the way the commonwealth failed to do something else.

I do not have the time or knowlege to figure out what that something else is.

Nope

Under federal law, pre-1899 guns are "antiques" and not legally "firearms", and Massachusetts general laws are based on the federal definition of a "firearm". This is the case in many states.

I'm 99% sure you need an LTC to carry an antique firearm in

public. Owning antiques is still different than carrying them in public. I'll check my firearms book when I get home.

The Bibby decision talked about this specific point:

"c. 140, § 121 exempts certain weapons [hereinafter antique weapons] from regulation under G. L. c. 140, §§ 122-129D and §§ 131A, 131B, 131E, if they were manufactured before 1899 or are replicas of weapons manufactured prior to 1899 and if they meet the other specific requirements in section 121(A) or (B). The exemption allows antique firearms, rifles, or shotguns to be kept at home or in one's place of business without any special permit, license or card being required. However, this exemption for purposes of possession or ownership of a firearm, shotgun or rifle does not satisfy the provisions of G. L. c. 269, § 10(a), which regulates the carrying of firearms, shotguns, rifles and . . . antique weapons . . . . Thus, G. L. c. 140, § 121(A) or (B) does not exempt antique weapons from all gun control regulation."

You are correct, sir

Heh, I just read that same text on ma.gov and came back to concede. Well done

Interestingly, the SJC opinion states:

“a person does not need a license to carry a firearm made before 1900. The carrying of such an antique firearm, therefore, is exempted … from the prohibition … against carrying a firearm without a license.”

So I'm not all that embarrassed; even the judge is confused by our byzantine gun regulations.

A more subtle reason for the ruling

Sorry if I didn't get this across: The court wasn't saying it was buying their argument necessarily, but that they didn't get a fair trial because they weren't allowed to make the case to the jury. At least, that's how I read it, and, of course, I'm not a lawyer.