On Friday, July 1, 2022, Massachusetts state officials issued an advisory (https://www.mass.gov/doc/ago-eopss-ltc-guidance/download) that confirmed the obvious: LTC restriction policies, like those enforced by the City of Boston, are unconstitutional in light of the Supreme Court’s recent holding in the Bruen case (https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/20-843_7j80.pdf).
Unfortunately, while this advisory provides some clarity on the restriction issue, important questions still remain. Our office is working closely with the Gun Owner’s Action League, Commonwealth Second Amendment, Firearms Policy Coalition and Second Amendment Foundation to formulate a cohesive strategy to address the following issues:
- Will licensing authorities comply with the advisory, repeal their restriction policies and reissue unrestricted LTCs? We anticipate the City of Boston will be complying with this advisory and adjusting their policy in the near future. Whether that means they will be issuing new, unrestricted LTCs to their license holders remains to be seen. Less is known about places like Springfield, Lowell, Watertown, Lawrence and Brookline. LTC holders with restrictions should be contacting their licensing authorities, in writing, and requesting unrestricted licenses . Any negative responses should be reported to GOAL or Comm2A (or forward to our office at 2A@lawguida.com) so that our team of attorneys can determine whether litigation is needed.
- Can I carry on a restricted LTC now? It seems that the provision of G.L. c. 140, sec. 131 that makes it a criminal offense to carry outside of a restriction is now unenforceable. However, a cautious LTC holder would be well advised to wait until there is more clarity. If you are charged with carrying an LTC outside of a restriction, please contact our office as soon as possible.
- What about discretionary licensing and suitability? The recent advisory reinforces the Chief’s authority to determine an LTC holder/applicant to be “unsuitable” to hold an LTC based on conduct that may pose a risk to public safety. This advisory is ripe for a challenge in the near future since the most recent analysis of suitability by the SJC relied upon a legal standard that the Supreme Court specifically rejected in Bruen. Unfortunately, this will take time and those who have been deemed “unsuitable” should not expect immediate relief, particularly in the Massachusetts court system.
The impact of the Bruen decision will take some time to shake out in Massachusetts. Please continue to follow updates from GOAL, Comm2A and this page for future updates.