Considering Massachusetts’s record as an anti-gun state, I don’t think they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt here.
The Gun Owners Action League (GOAL), which represents 16,000 members in Massachusetts and is the official state affiliate of the NRA,reports that many people applying for licenses have been experiencing long delays.
GOAL Executive Director Jim Wallace said the average time for obtaining a license is currently six months. That leaves many Massachusetts residents waiting much longer than the state law requires.
According to state law, an applicant will be notified within 40 days of either approval or denial of the license.
Chapter 140, Section 131 of Massachusetts’ General Law states, “The licensing authority shall, within 40 days from the date of application, either approve the application and issue the license or deny the application and notify the applicant of the reason for such denial in writing; provided, however, that no such license shall be issued unless the colonel has certified, in writing, that the information available to him does not indicate that the possession of a firearm or large capacity firearm by the applicant would be in violation of state or federal law.”
When the FBI NICS background check system returns a delay (as opposed to immediately denying a sale or allowing it to proceed), FFLs are allowed to proceed at their own discretion with a sale after three business days if the open NICS case isn’t resolved. This no doubt encourages NICS to do their best to provide a timely response, so that they aren’t on the hook on those rare occasions when a prohibited person attempts to buy a firearm through legal channels.
Perhaps the best solution to these allegations of “slow-walking” in Massachusetts (and similar federal ATF delays regarding NFA items) is to revise both of these systems so that they have a constrained time limit. If they do not complete their checks in time prescribed by law, then the applicant should be given the benefit of the doubt (criminals rarely, if ever apply for such permits anyway) and the permit automatically approved.
How’s that for “common sense” guns law?