LTCs now being suspended for Harassment Prevention Orders

Harassment Prevention Orders (“HPO’s”), issued under G.L. c. 258E, operate similar to domestic violence restraining orders in Massachusetts but affect individuals who are typically unrelated and have never been involved in a dating relationship. An HPO can be issued against any person if a court finds that this person has committed 3 or more acts against another person with the “intent to cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property and that does in fact cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property.” This means that your neighbor or coworker can seek an HPO if he or she feels that you are intimidating them or placing them in fear of harm.

HPOs and the facts surrounding these orders have always been considered by licensing authorities when determining whether an LTC holder is a suitable person to hold the license. While denials and suspensions did occur, often times licensing authorities could read between the lines and differentiate between a legitimate risk to public safety and a frivolous dispute between difficult neighbors. Unfortunately, the recently enacted firearms legislation, Chapter 175 of the Acts of 2022 (effective August 10, 2022), added HPOs to the laundry list of disqualifiers for an LTC. As a result, licensing authorities no longer have the discretion to allow an LTC to remain active after the issuance of an HPO.

Our office has received reports in recent days from LTC holders with valid LTCs receiving suspension notices due to active HPOs. It is possible that police departments are being advised to take action by state authorities as a result of the new legislation.

If you have an LTC and are currently a defendant in an active HPO, you should be prepared for an LTC suspension and the forced surrender of your firearms, rifles shotguns and ammunition. You should take steps to ensure that the items in your inventory are lawful to own in Massachusetts and you should have a written notice prepared and addressed to your police department with a directive to release your property to a valid LTC holder or FFL of your choosing. You should also consider contacting our office to discuss whether an early termination of the HPO is available.

If you receive notice that an HPO is being sought against you, take it seriously. Too often people believe that they can handle these matters themselves and that they will be able to explain everything away in court. The truth is that courts often side with the plaintiffs in these cases since, in a judge’s mind, the issuance of an HPO has no real consequences and may help to alleviate the potential escalation of an issue. The fact that the HPO will now result in the automatic suspension or revocation of your firearms rights will not change this analysis.

Our office works with clients throughout Massachusetts to defend against the issuance of frivolous HPOs. We recommend that you contact us as soon as you receive notice that an HPO is being sought against you so that we have time to prepare your case and speak to potential witnesses.

8 thoughts on “LTCs now being suspended for Harassment Prevention Orders

  1. Robert Edwards

    I truly wish this kind of help and assistance was readily 30 years ago. I didn’t know then that a frivolous restraining order would affect the rest of my life. The most I can own are Pellet Guns, Bows an Arrows, Knives and swords. Thank for the ability to express.


  2. Yury Levin

    LTC suspended, no restraining order, no criminal history, ex-spouse had a concern about my well being. District court denied appeal. Any recourse?


    1. jaguida

      A denial after hearing in District Court may be reviewed by the Superior Court if filed within 60 days of the decision. However, the Superior Court review is extremely limited – it may only correct an error of law apparent on the lower court’s record of proceedings.


  3. js

    If I have an active HPO against someone and there current LTC is and has been revoked, 8’x in the past. Would the red flag law be applicable to this person whom has had numerous HPO’s against them and for various reason had there LTC revoked and given back more than 8’xs and now once again has a HPO. can there be a permanent ban for this person?


    1. jaguida

      Based on your description, while a red flag petition may be appropriate, the LTC is at the discretion of the Chief. It is unlikely that a Chief in MA would restore an LTC after that history.


      1. Js

        I would normally agree no chief in his right mind would ever reissue the LTC to someone who has had it taken 8x’s and given back. However look at this situation how it got to this point. He has friends in the particular dept in the city he lives in. so once the current chief leaves the next on is his friend and walla!! he now gets his LTC back. Its difficult to put any kind trust in the dept that giveth and taketh away 8x’s….hence why Im curious if the Red Flag law would useful in this situation? Its unbuntantly clear the person is not a suitable character for such license, but that does not seem to stop the pd from issuing it over and over. How does the red flag law work in a situation like this? or is it even applicable?


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