A federal appeals court has upheld the right of Massachusetts police departments to deny people the right to bear certain arms if they lie on their permit applications.
The ruling means former Boston police officer Stacey Hightower can no longer carry a concealed .38 caliber five-round revolver - or carry high-capacity weaponry.
In 2008, after she had resigned as an officer, Police Commissioner Edward Davis revoked Hightower's "Class A" license, which would let her walk around with a concealed weapon in general, and high-powered guns in particular. Davis said he rejected the renewal because she had lied on her application by affirming she was not subject to "any complaints or charges pending" related to her work as a police officer when, in fact, she resigned while under investigation for lying to internal-affairs officers looking into a complaint lodged against another officer.
Hightower sued to get her license back, arguing in part that the Second Amendment gives her the right to pack a concealed pistol outside the home for personal protection. But a federal district court upheld Davis's decision and now the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston has upheld that ruling, saying the Second Amendment right to bear arms is not absolute: There is no specific right to carry high-powered weapons that go beyond the needs of personal protection and authorities have the right to restrict who can carry them based on the answers on their applications:
A requirement that firearms license applicants provide truthful information, enforced by the revocation of licenses if the applicant provides false information, serves a variety of important purposes. For one, it helps ensure the integrity of the system of keeping prohibited persons from possessing firearms. Massachusetts's licensing scheme prohibits certain categories of people from possessing firearms. See Mass. Gen. Law ch. 140, § 131(d)(i)-(vii). A licensing authority does not necessarily possess all of the information necessary to determine an individual's eligibility. The submission of false information by an applicant could make it more difficult for the licensing authority to assess whether the applicant is eligible (e.g., submission of a false name would make it more difficult to perform a background check). Footnote The prohibition of the inclusion of false information in a license application is necessary to the functioning of the licensing scheme.