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Supreme Court's Impact on Firearms Licenses

In another case from this year’s term, the Supreme Court struck down New York’s law regulating when individuals may carry firearms in public. The decision, New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen, raises concerns about its impact on the Massachusetts firearms licensing scheme. The Court specifically noted that Massachusetts provides discretion to local licensing authorities as to whether to grant a concealed carry license, in part based on whether the applicant has “good reason” to seek the permit. M.G.L. c.140, §131(d).

The Attorney General and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security have issued guidance to law enforcement officials with their opinion as to how the Supreme Court’s decision affects firearms licensing in Massachusetts. It is now clear that a license to carry cannot be denied merely because the applicant has failed to provide a “good reason” for the application, if the applicant otherwise fulfills the statutory criteria, although the official can still ask for the reason as part of the determination of suitability. But the requirement that a person have a license to carry a firearm in Massachusetts remains in effect and the process for issuing a Firearms ID card is unaffected. The statutory definitions of who is a “prohibited person” to hold a license to carry are also unaffected.


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