The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that a man who outgrew his violent neighborhood to become a respectable member of society still cannot legally own a concealed weapon in Boston for self protection, even though he sometimes carries large amounts of cash.
The state's highest court said state gun laws do not violate Mirko Chardin's Second Amendment rights because even the US Supreme Court has held the right to own a gun is not absolute and that states can enact laws to keep guns out of the hands of people convicted of felonies - including minors.
The court recounted Chardin's history: At age 14, in 1995, he got a gun for protection after his friend was murdered over some sneakers. He was standing in front of a plainclothes police officer when the gun fell out of his pocket and he was arrested. He has changed since then, however, the court noted:
In the years since this incident, Chardin has been a law-abiding citizen. He graduated from college, earned a master's degree in teaching, has been working toward a Ph.D. in education, became an ordained minister, and has done volunteer work in his community. Chardin currently is employed as the head of the Putnam Avenue Upper School in Cambridge. He also is a coowner and manager of a small used car dealership in the Roslindale area of Boston, JBI Auto Sales LLC (JBI). He works there part-time, at night and on the weekends, and he regularly attends car auctions to buy vehicles for JBI. At these auctions, purchases must be made in cash, so Chardin is required to carry large amounts of money on his person, which has caused him to fear for his safety. In addition, JBI has a night deposit agreement with Citizens Bank whereby Chardin regularly makes large cash deposits for JBI, again raising personal safety concerns.
And yet, despite all that, he remains forever a person with a record for committing the felony of possessing a gun illegally and that, under Massachusetts law, is a bar to legal gun ownership, the court ruled.
Notwithstanding its articulation in Heller of an individual right to keep and bear arms in one's home for self-defense, the Supreme Court also recognized that the Second Amendment right is "not unlimited, just as the First Amendment's right of free speech ... [does not] protect the right of citizens to speak for any purpose " ... It pointed out that "[f]rom Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose." ... As such, the Court continued, an individual's Second Amendment right does not prohibit laws regulating who may purchase, possess, and carry firearms, and where such weapons may be carried. ... Although the Supreme Court did not undertake "an exhaustive historical analysis" of the full scope of the Second Amendment, it identified an expressly nonexclusive list of "presumptively lawful regulatory measures," declaring that nothing in Heller "should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."