A federal judge last week upheld Boston's and Brookline's tight restrictions on who can carry guns, saying the state law that allows them does not violate the Second Amendment.
The people who had sued - four Boston residents, one Brookline resident and a gun-rights group - immediately filed an appeal of US District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor's ruling.
The residents were all denied licenses to carry guns in public for personal protection; the police departments instead issued them licenses only allowing them to carry guns to get to or from target practice or someplace where they could legally hunt, under a state law that lets police departments set limits on what people can use guns for outside the home.
Both Boston and Brookline require people who want to carry a gun at all times for personal protection to prove they have a specific reason to fear for their safety. Both communities also offer a restricted license allowing the right to carry while they are at work. In the Brookline case, the resident, who works as a photographer, was offered a license to carry while he was at work after telling police he carries expensive photographic equipment and works with expensive artwork.
In his ruling, Saylor said that while a US Supreme Court ruling on the Second Amendment involving gun-control laws in Washington DC makes it clear that people have a right to arm themselves at home, the current case law is less absolute when it comes to walking around in public with a gun. And even in the Washington, DC case, he wrote, the Supreme Court said the right to own a gun is not absolute - the court gave as examples felons and people with mental problems can be barred from gun ownership.
Saylor continued that:
To the extent that imposing "sporting," "target," "hunting," and "employment" restrictions on applicants who fail to show "good reason to fear injury" burdens conduct protected by the Second Amendment, that requirement is substantially related to the state's important objective in protecting public safety and preventing crime. As other courts have found, "requiring a showing that there is an objective threat to a person's safety - a special need for self-protection - before granting a carry license is entirely consistent with the right to bear arms."