East Boston liquor-store has to shut for a day over rifle citation

The Boston Licensing Board yesterday voted a one-day suspension for a February incident Belle Isle Wine and Spirits in which an employee got into the boss's office, took out his rifle and posed for a Facebook photo with it, which led to a visit by Boston Police and the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.

At a hearing on Tuesday, the store's owner acknowledged he'd done a dumb thing, especially because Boston prohibits the storage of the AR-15 rifle he had, but said he'd taken steps to make sure it never happens again, including banning the employee, who still works for him at the pizza place he owns next door, from ever entering the liquor store again.



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Is the owner a Boston

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Is the owner a Boston resident? The city AWB ordinance is only legally binding against residents.

Violating the state's safe storage requirements on the other hand are a giant no no.

A 1989 city ordinance bans

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A 1989 city ordinance bans residents from possessing specific models of scary looking rifles and rifle magazines over 10 rounds in capacity within the city limits. The penalty is a hefty fine and likely license revocation by BPD.

It doesn't apply to nonresidents, resident property stored outside the city limits, or the ~200 people or so which managed to get a special city permit during a limited period of time in 1989.

The legal counsel for the city isn't aware of anyone ever being fined or cited for violating the ordinance.

Assault Weapons Ban

Boston has its own, city-level law, passed before the federal one became law in 1994. The Boston ban is stricter than the eventual federal one was.

Massachusetts, of course, enshrined the federal ban in state law prior to the sunset of the federal ban in 2004.

Indeed, and the Boston ban is

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Indeed, and the Boston ban is not worth the paper it is written on. Is not considered enforceable by the DAs and has never been prosecuted.

"assault weapon" is not the

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"assault weapon" is not the same thing as "assault rifle". The former is a legal term with no technical meaning, the latter means a subtype of machine gun. MA bans "assault weapons". "Assault rifles" are, like all machine guns, prohibitively difficult for civilians to own anywhere in the US. These two terms are designed to be confused with each other to make people more receptive to banning "assault weapons", which are just normal rifles with specific cosmetic features that do not impact their function -- things like adjustable stocks, certain grips, or bayonet mounts.

By the way, the reason I

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By the way, the reason I wrote this is because Adam characterized this firearm as an assault rifle, when it is not. He was wrong from a technical and legal point of view, though I'm sure he meant the right thing.

Well, it kind of does

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Chapter 596, the Boston-specific assault-weapons ban, states:

In the city of Boston, it shall be unlawful to sell, rent, lease, possess, purchase, barter, display, or transfer an assault weapon.

The guy who testified before the board used the word "stored," but I think the word "possess" above would cover "stored." That's even before you get into the question of whether leaving a gun in plain sight (even if behind a door with a combination lock) is the sort of secure storage state law calls for.

As noted above, the law specifically mentions "AR-15 semi-automatic rifles," so I guess the question would be whether this particular gun is semi-automatic. And displaying the gun ignorance for which I am widely noted, are there non-semi-automatic AR-15s?

Yes, there are non semi auto

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Yes, there are non semi auto ARs. Tho I doubt this one, they are rather uncommon. The boston law is unenforceable. It is further not enforceable against non boston residents on top of its general unenforceable status. I mean think about it for 2 seconds. Anybody traveling from Quincy to Hull would be traveling through Boston, they are not violating the law when the posses a rifle when doing to.

Did I miss where he was actually charged with a violation of the law? Little alcohol board pol pots dont count.

Silly you thinking the

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Silly you thinking the legality of random ordinances enacted by the city council for political posturing is ever taken seriously.

I for one will be happy to sell pre-ban hoverboards on Craigslist next year!

He wasn't

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As I noted in my first post, a court clerk didn't find probably cause to issue a criminal complaint.


this was part of a plea deal? "We won't charge you with a criminal safe-storage violation if you'll agree to take a one-day suspension from the licensing board." Gun owner thus gets taught a lesson about safe-storage, "the system" is seen as having done its job, and the gun owner doesn't end up with a criminal record and retains his right to own firearms. (Assuming that his local police chief doesn't take the whole thing as evidence of "unsuitability" and revoke his LTC, mileage may vary on that one.)

It used to be that safe-storage violations only resulted in a fine. They tightened up the laws as of 1/1/2015, with the gun bill that was passed back in '14. Now, if you violate safe-storage with a handgun or high-capacity long gun (which this presumably was), there's possible jail time attached. The potential sentence would make you a "prohibited person" via Gun Control Act of 1968. No guns for you ever again, anywhere, in any state. I can understand why someone wouldn't want to go to bat on that one. I'm no lawyer but I would guess that the fact that someone actually did gain unauthorized access to the firearm would make him look really bad in court, if it came to that.

Danger to the public

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An employee was posing for photos with an assault rifle in the store aisles. An assault rifle that belonged to the owner.

But again the man could run

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But again the man could run his shop with a slung rifle and it would be perfectly legal.

Assault WEAPON, not assault

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Assault WEAPON, not assault RIFLE. This is literally an article about the legal ramifications of these terms, which are distinct (see my up-thread comment). You're a journalist, please use them correctly.

Licensing board

doesn't have to find you guilty of a law violation in order to sanction you. Two guys having a fistfight in an establishment doesn't involve the owner or anyone in the management chain violating the law, as such, but it can get the owner called on the carpet to explain how that happened and the steps they're going to take to prevent it from happening again.

Whether or not that should be the case is open to debate. Certainly a lot of the licensing board stuff that comes up on UHub makes people roll their eyes; there's only a limited amount of control an owner has over the stuff that happens on the public sidewalk outside his bar, for instance. But, as things stand, that's the way it works.