Massachusetts 2A group targets carry ban in Boston parks

Massachusetts 2A group targets carry ban in Boston parks
(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

The Gun Owners Action League is warning the mayor of Boston that the city’s ban on concealed carry in public parks is a lawsuit waiting to happen, but whether the city will dig in its heels or axe its ordinance is very much an open question.

In a letter to Mayor Michelle Wu, GOAL Director of Public Policy Mike Harris points to a little-known section of Boston Parks regulations that forbids “any firearm or destructive weapon” from all public parks; a prohibition that the gun rights group says is contradicted by the Supreme Court’s recent decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.

Under this decision the ban on possession/carrying of firearms can only take place in an “Historically Sensitive Area.” This includes places like court houses, schools, etc. Under this ruling, parks cannot be considered an historically sensitive area. Thus, such regulations are now civil rights violations under Bruen as the decision protects the right to possess/carry firearms in all but historically sensitive areas. 

We are requesting that your office notify all law enforcement under your control that Section 2(m) of the Parks Rules and Regulations is now unenforceable. Further, we request that the regulations themselves be amended to repeal the anti-civil rights Section 2(m).

While the letter from GOAL doesn’t specifically mention litigation if the city fails to scrap this ordinance, executive director Jim Wallace tells Bearing Arms that all options are on the table. And the organization isn’t stopping with the carry ban in Boston parks either. They’ve been combing through state and local statutes looking for other potential violations on the right to bear arms, and have also penned a letter to the state’s Environmental Police pointing out a several other problematic provisions.

MGL Ch. 90B § 26(g) – Recreational Vehicles

(g) No person shall carry a firearm, rifle or shotgun in or on a snow vehicle or recreation vehicle or on a trailer or sled attached thereto unless such firearm, rifle or shotgun is unloaded and in an enclosed case. This section shall not apply to a law enforcement officer or other person with enforcement powers authorized in section 32, or to a paraplegic as provided in section 65 of chapter 131. 

MGL Ch. 131 § 67 – Fish & Wildlife

Section 67. A person shall not use or possess, where birds or mammals may be found, any rifle chambered to take larger than twenty-two long rifle ammunition, or any revolver or pistol chambered to take larger than thirty-eight caliber ammunition between the hours of one half hour after sunset to one half hour before sunrise of any day throughout the year. 

MGL Ch. 131 § 70 – Fish & Wildlife

Section 70. A person shall not, during the open season when deer may be hunted lawfully with a shotgun, hunt a bird or mammal with a rifle, revolver or pistol or by the aid of a dog, or have in his possession or under his control in any wood or field, a rifle, revolver or pistol, or a dog. Nothing in this section shall be deemed to prohibit the use of dogs to hunt waterfowl in coastal waters and salt marshes during the open season on migratory waterfowl.

The issues with these ordinances are clear: a ban on lawfully carrying a firearm in self-defense while on a snowmobile or ATV, even on private property? There’s no way that could withstand scrutiny after SCOTUS spelled out the fact that we have a right to bear arms in self-defense.

I think the same is true for the other bans on handguns, even though they’re more limited in scope. Section 67, for instance, prohibits the lawful carrying of many commonly-owned pistols and revolvers, but only after the sun has set and there might be critters afoot… an odd regulation to begin with, and one that’s difficult to justify under the test laid out by the Supreme Court in the Bruen case. Section 70, meanwhile, bans the lawful carrying of a handgun for self-defense in the great outdoors during deer season, even if the individual in question isn’t hunting at all.

These provisions probably aren’t enforced all that often, but that doesn’t mean they should remain on the books. Will the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts do the right thing and get rid of these restrictive statutes on their own, however? Based on the hostility towards the Second Amendment that’s routinely displayed by city and state officials, I have my doubts.

As Wallace told me, “after the Bruen decision was handed down, it was made abundantly clear in outlier states like Massachusetts that the social bigotry against the Second Amendment community was not suddenly going to go away,” adding that “when the decision was announced most of us in the trenches knew the fight was only beginning. Throughout US history, historical civil rights cases rarely end the struggle, rather they greatly expose the strongest enemies of freedom. Those enemies seldom capitulate. Instead they become even more aggressive.”

That’s certainly been the case over the past couple of months, but gun owners are also aggressively defending our Second Amendment rights in statehouses, courtrooms, and the public square… and we won’t stop until our right to keep and bear arms is strong and secure for generations to come.