The Massachusetts Gun Control Act of 1998 was touted as a major public safety win for gun control activists who were seeking to limit individual access to firearms. This now two-decade old sweeping reform created new provisions which disqualified thousands of individuals from renewing their LTCs. Unfortunately (and perhaps unintentionally), these new provisions affected law enforcement officers and regular citizens in equal measure. In response, law enforcement unions and 2A-friendly groups like GOAL lobbied the Legislature to provide relief and, in 2004, the Massachusetts Legislature created the Firearms Licensing Review Board (“FLRB”).
The FLRB was empowered by statute to restore individual firearms rights to persons convicted of certain Massachusetts misdemeanor offenses (generally OUI and non-domestic assault and battery convictions) punishable by a maximum possible term of imprisonment of 2 1/2 years. Approximately 400 people have successfully petitioned the FLRB since 2004 and subsequently obtained their LTCs.
Unfortunately, despite case law to the contrary, the federal government (ATF) maintains an unwavering position that the FLRB cannot restore an individual’s right to possess a firearm under federal law . The ATF position is based upon an expansive reading of the Supreme Court’s 2007 Logan decision which was rejected by the Supreme Court of the State of New Hampshire in 2015. The FLRB has operated for many years despite ATF’s position on the issue. However, on May 23, 2018, the current executive administration, acting in concert with ATF, announced a new interpretation of state and federal law that invalidated all previously issued FLRB restorations and triggered a flurry of LTC revocations and denials.
I began litigating against this new interpretation of law in late-2018 with the support of Commonwealth Second Amendment (Comm2A.org). There are now over 2 dozen court decisions that have rejected ATF’s opinion and have ordered the reinstatement of FLRB-supported LTCs. (More information on these decisions can be found under the “Press” link on this site).
I am continuing to fight for the rights of FLRB petitioners at an appellate level. I hope to have a favorable, binding court opinion by early 2021 that will make clear that a favorable FLRB decision restores an individual’s right to obtain an LTC and possess a firearm in Massachusetts. In the meantime, any person who is seeking FLRB relief should be aware that the FLRB has stopped issuing favorable decisions. The FLRB will hear your case but will automatically deny your petition based upon their support of ATF’s flawed interpretation of law.
Any new developments on this issue will be announced here first. Feel free to ask questions on this thread or contact my office for more information.