In Massachusetts, Police May Soon Decide Who Can Buy Any Guns

Law Shield regrets to inform our Multi-State members that Massachusetts lawmakers recently passed a bill that gives police chiefs the authority to decide if residents can buy a rifle or shotgun as well as a handgun.

In sum, this bill would make Massachusetts the first state in which an individual’s right to acquire any type of firearm would be subject to the discretion of a government official.

Governor Deval Patrick supports tightening the state’s gun laws and will likely sign the bill into law.

This kind of local authority has been abused and litigated in another state — California — in favor of gun owners. For decades, police chiefs in California denied handgun licenses to law-abiding citizens without fear of review — the “may issue” standard.

H.4376 broadens the authority of police in the Bay State, who were already allowed to deny sales of handguns. And how willing are some local police going to be in issuing permits for a bird gun or a deer rifle or a competition handgun?

Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans said in an interview with Boston Public Radio, “For the most part, nobody in the city needs a shotgun, nobody needs a rifle, and I don’t know a lot of people who are into hunting who, being lifelong residents, would actually want that who lives in the city, but, especially here in the city. I want to have discretion over who’s getting any type of gun because public safety is my main concern and as you know it’s an uphill battle taking as many guns off the street right now without pumping more into the system.”

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