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Judge upholds the way Boston and Brookline limit gun licenses; says it's OK under the Second Amendment

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."

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Comments

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.

Bold should be replaced with 'transport'. The distinction between carry and transport is an important one in this circumstance.

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This may not be true, actually. The license is still a License to Carry even with a restriction. It seems reasonable to interpret the restriction as meaning you can only carry while going to/from sporting activities. I do not believe this has ever been tested in court, so the smart move is to not carry concealed at all on such a license.

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In Brookline the police department explicitly informs you in writing (and makes you sign a document) that you may only carry while engaged in the activity and must store (unload, lock) the firearm while traveling.

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I am curious what law empowers the Brookline PD to demand such a signature. This state needs a reaming.

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Boston and Brookline are the only two municipalities in the state which don't allow carry to and from sporting activities.

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This is in conflict with the recent 1st circuit ruling in DC.

The court failed to address the question of equal protection under the law. Why are doctors and lawyers are more special than other people under both city's licensing schemes? Also why do residents of Boston and Brookline have less of a right to a permit than 90% of the Commonwealth's residents (Boston and Brookline are two of very few places in the commonwealth with such policies) who are able to carry in Boston and Brookline. As a minority majority city with massive income inequality there is a significant question of why Boston's licensing scheme can't be considered discriminatory when affluent persons and professions have access to permits the poor do not.

Interestingly enough the ruling did acknowledge the right to carry outside the home (in other words Heller did away with "no issue" and this is a minor blow to "may issue, but, no carry") at least in a limited fashion first noted in Caetano v. Massachusetts. Though the SJC, legislature, and prosecutors are openly ignoring that SCotUS ruling.

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By basically dismissing it, in a single paragraph:

Like the Second Amendment claim, this issue is ripe for disposal on summary judgment. “[E]qual protection analysis requires strict scrutiny of a legislative classification only when the classification impermissibly interferes with the exercise of a fundamental right or operates to the peculiar disadvantage of a suspect class.” Massachusetts Bd. of Retirement v. Murgia, 427 U.S. 307, 312 (1976). Here, the classification does not impermissibly interfere with the exercise of a fundamental right, and there is no suspect class at issue. Thus, “[g]iven that the Second Amendment challenge fails, the Equal Protection claim is subject to rational basis review.” Hightower, 693 F.3d at 83. For the same reasons that the regulatory regime is substantially related to the important governmental objectives of promoting public safety and preventing crime, it also survives rational basis review.

My apologies for leaving that out.

As for why Boston and Brookline can do things differently than other communities in the state, he also addresses that, if indirectly: State law gives communities the leeway to do that - so it's not like they're arbitrarily interpreting a state law differently than everybody else.

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Why do doctors and lawyers have special treatment when their jobs have nothing to do with public safety? How is that not violating equal protection under the law when some animals are more equal than others? Is a doctor or lawyer somehow more worthy than a janitor or do they have more valuable lives? Doesn't seem right.

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Doctors and Lawyers are more likely to be targeted than other professions? A lawyer who defends a gang member and loses. A doctor who performs abortions or fails to save a patient. Custodians don't have similar worries.

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The poor are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than pretty much any other population groups.

The MA law disparately impacts minorities and the poor, they are the most likely to be denied licenses. Gun controls racist roots live on here in MA.

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To be clear I'm not endorsing the policy, just guessing why it might exist.

Of course all these issues go away if we ban guns.

Ban guns. Repeal the 2nd.

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Good luck with that call for violence.

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Repeal the 1st

Ban religion. Ban due process. Ban private property. Ban delays on Senate pay raises. Ban liquor. Ban gay sex. Ban straight sex. Ban freedom of movement. Ban copyright. Ban postal delivery on alternate Thursdays.

Repeal it all and install me as your God-King!

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Outright banning and confiscating of firearms won't help the issue of firearms violence. Take a look at Cody Wilson's projects. He's pretty much guaranteed that anyone can manufacture a firearm in the comfort of their own home. This is a firearm without a serial number, is untraceable and fully functioning. Think this isn't a problem in MA? Think again:

http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/08/easthampton_man_pleads_gu...

Firearms aren't built by magic elves who disappear when the sun comes up. They are built by people who have easy access to materials.

Continuing to make legal gun owners a punching bag of society isn't going to solve gun violence problems.

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Oh, now that's weak. As classes of people, not all doctors perform abortions and not all lawyers defend gang members.

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https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfar0020.pdf

Doctors and Lawyers do not even make the list.

The Boston and Brookline gun policy is PURE racism.

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The Boston and Brookline gun policy is PURE racism.

Coming from you, with your history of veiled and not-so-veiled racist dogwhistling, this is rich.

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>so it's not like they're arbitrarily interpreting a state law differently than everybody else.

Actually that's exactly what the towns and cities are doing. There is no state guidelines on how to interpret the "has good reason" licensing requirements in the law. If you can get a restricted license in Boston or Brookline you're certain to get an unrestricted license in at least 100 other towns in Mass.

The judge thinks the plaintiffs lack a basis for their complaint because he claims the second ammendment does not guarantee a person's right to carry firearms ready-for-use in public.

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Homeless? No 2A rights for you.

This is why MA dropped the Caetano case after getting whipped by SCOTUS. What a great case to follow up to SCOTUS. Good work Comm2A, you really do have em right where you want em.

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How can someone without a home meet the requirements to securely store their weapons? Lockers at shelters won't cut it.

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Like I said, no 2A rights if you are homeless thanks in part to requirements like this. What other constitutionally enumerated rights do the homeless surrender? I am not aware of any.

SCOTUS sure cracked the whip in Caetano. Laws that infringe upon constitutional rights are thus illegal.

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When your possessions are in a big pile in an uninhabited storefront, it's a bit tougher to resist search and seizure I'd bet.

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Not dicey at all. Homeless enjoy 4A protections(and should). SCOTUS by rejecting the case and the Federal courts have addressed this. http://www.care2.com/causes/can-homeless-people-own-anything-supreme-cou...

Now trespassing etc impacts whether or not such protections exist.

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We apparently disagree in our interpretation of the 2nd amendment.

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So you supported the charges faced by Caetano? She did not enjoy 2A rights because she was homeless?

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The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

***Unless homeless!

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What militia do you and this homeless person belong to, again?

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but, that's immaterial. SCOTUS has established that the right to arms is not dependant on association with or in a militia.

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so does free speech only apply to public oration and printing presses? no.

likewise joining a militia was just ONE reason to be able to keep and bear arms in common use.

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No permanent address = no permits or licenses in MA. Oddly enough this doesn't create an issue with voting.

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Voting doesn't kill people - guns kill people.

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I should have my firearms checked out. They must be defective by your standard. None of them have killed anyone.

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And Duterte has killed a bunch. He must be broken too?

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Tell that to the Philippines and Duterte.

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The only that makes sense with driver's licenses is that it's hard to register or insure a vehicle without a permanent address. But that wouldn't prevent someone from working and driving a company vehicle. So by not issuing licenses to persons without permanent addresses there is discrimination against homeless' persons ability to live out of a car and drive it for work or to drive for someone else as part of employment.

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I can't recall a single Boston shooting out of hundreds where the shooter had a licence to carry. So, the problem is people without, not NRA members.

There is a good argument for victim-blaming when people have had a gun stolen. That they should get penalized for not having the gun in a safe etc.

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lol, that's a case whereby a licensed person legally used their firearm for self defense. the implication was the Mass "strictest laws in the country" licensed gun owners are not acting criminally.

but if you want to talk about shootings by licensees then you could cite any number of POLICE shootings.

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