How quickly the tide changed in the Bay State

Massachusetts was just the subject of a piece of mine the other day because it seemed like the state officials were going to keep their heel’s dug in on how they do business in issuing permits to carry. Well, the ink hardly dried on that piece and then guidance was issued out in a joint advisory from the Office of the Attorney General and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. Looking at the source page, the guidance which was sent to me by an FFL, machine gun license holder in Massachusetts, and certified Massachustts firearms instructor, was issued on July 1st. The document seems to go against the previously noted statements by both Governor Baker and Attorney General Healey.

“The Baker-Polito Administration is proud of the Commonwealth’s nation-leading gun laws and history of enacting bipartisan gun reform legislation.  The Court’s ruling on New York’s licensing law has no immediate effect on the Commonwealth’s gun laws, which all remain in place,” – RINO Governor Charlie Baker

“In a country flooded with firearms, today’s reckless and anti-democratic decision poses a grave danger to Americans as they go about their daily lives in public spaces like supermarkets, hospitals, and playgrounds. Gun violence is a public health epidemic, and I remain committed to doing everything I can to keep our residents and our communities safe. Massachusetts has one of the lowest gun death rates in the country because we know that strong gun laws save lives. I stand by our commonsense gun laws and will continue to vigorously defend and enforce them.” – Attorney General Maura Healey

The three page guidance document does not have to be three pages. Not at all. The document is a weird veil, in my opinion, to hide the concession that Massachustts’s law is unconstitutional. Healey, the civil rights wrecking machine, noted said laws were “commonsense…and [she] will continue to vigorously defend and enforce them”, is the opposite of this newer, wordier position.

The word salad starts out like this:

The Attorney General’s Office and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security issue this joint advisory to provide guidance to licensing authorities and law enforcement officials on how the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen affects Massachusetts’s firearms licensing laws. We are proud to continue to partner with you in implementing and vigorously enforcing Massachusetts’s gun safety laws. These laws help keep our state a safe place to live, raise families, work, and visit.

On June 23, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. The case involved New York’s requirement that applicants demonstrate “proper cause” in order to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon in most public places. The Court held that New York’s proper cause requirement violates the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. Although Bruen concerned a New York law, the Court specifically identified the “good reason” provision of a Massachusetts law, G.L. c. 140, § 131(d), as an analogue to New York’s proper cause requirement. Bruen, slip op. 4-6; see also id. at 6 n.2.

So what’s the meat and potatoes? The meat and potatoes, buried twice within the document are as follows:

Licensing authorities should cease enforcement of the “good reason” provision of the license-to-carry statute in response to Bruen. Authorities should no longer deny, or impose restrictions on, a license to carry because the applicant lacks a sufficiently good reason to carry a firearm. An applicant who is neither a “prohibited person” or “unsuitable” must be issued an unrestricted license to carry.

Almost in some sort of weird mind game, they kind of bolded the wrong section in my opinion. The important part is right at the end:

An applicant who is neither a “prohibited person” or “unsuitable” must be issued an unrestricted license to carry. [emphasis added]

The other fun thing they did was note that it’s still “okay” to ask a reason, but not to approve or deny the permit based on that reason. Why though?

Licensing authorities may continue to inquire about the reasons why the applicant wants a license, but may only use that information to assess the prohibited person and suitability requirements of the statute. They may not use that information to deny or restrict a license for lack of a sufficiently good reason to carry a firearm.

What kind of nonsense is that? Well, for whatever reason, they doubled down on their explanation of it being okay to ask such a question that no longer is the business of a governmental body. Or is it not nonsense, and part of a workaround? At the end, they did reiterate the change in tune and interesting stipulation.

This does not mean that a licensing authority is foreclosed from inquiring [emphasis added] of the applicant about their reasons for seeking a license to carry.2  An answer to any such question may bear on whether an applicant is a prohibited person or is unsuitable under the definition set forth in the Statute.3 But an applicant’s answer to such a question may not be used to deny the application because the applicant lacks a sufficiently good reason to request the license, or to restrict the permissible uses of the license based on an appearance that the applicant lacks a sufficiently good reason to fear injury to person or property. Going forward, if an applicant is not a prohibited person and is not unsuitable, the applicant must be issued an unrestricted license to carry. [emphasis added]

Regardless of this weird semantical game, Massachusetts seems to be bending a knee to NYSRPA v. Bruen, as they should! The only concerning part of this mishmash is the references to whether or not someone is a “suitable” person. Is the Attorney General basically inferring that issuing authorities should just deem people “unsuitable” to workaround the decision? My friend and colleague Jared over at Guns & Gadgets talks a bit about this in one of his recent videos, and I’m linking it and embedding it below to share with you his perspective.

My question to all that have dealt with hostile jurisdictions that don’t issue unrestricted carry permits in Massachusetts is were the denials due to not having a proper need, or the person being “unsuitable”? The state’s going to be hard pressed to make the claim that someone that’s not federally prohibited from firearm ownership is also not suitable to carry one. The decision will really have the dug in authorities painting themselves into a corner.

If it makes the public masters feel better that they have three pages of garbage to communicate that which can be summed up by saying “We are shall issue now and ‘cause’/’need’ is off the table,” that’s fine and dandy. I’m going to maybe err on the optimistic side and assume that the suitability of people won’t be a big issue, or that if it is, such obstructions will quickly become challenged. But reading through the bovine excrement, it seems that the people of Massachusetts have become liberated by NYSRPA like those of New Jersey (on paper at least). The irony of course is New York, the jurisdiction the opinion was completely aimed at has yet to do the right thing. Here’s hoping I’m correct.

Jared’s video The Time Is Now! How The Supreme Court Decision Affected This Anti 2A-State! can be viewed HERE or in the embed below: