Massachusetts – -(AmmoLand.com)- Wakefield PD returns License To Carry and Firearm.
Last month Massachusetts’ Middlesex Superior Court handed down an important decision overturning a Wakefield License To Carry revocation based upon ‘suitability’ and failure to disclose prior court appearances. In doing so, the court affirmed the current statutory language that requires that suitability denials be based upon a credible threat to public safety. This is an important decision because district courts have continued to allow police chiefs broad discretion in determining ‘suitability’ despite a 2014 statutory change that established a suitability standard based upon an actual risk to public safety.
The case involves a Wakefield resident with a non-violent criminal record in Canada for which he’s since received a pardon from the Canadian government. When Wakefield PD learned of this record they revoked the resident’s License To Carry citing three reasons:
- The ‘disqualifying’ Canadian convictions (since pardoned);
- Failure to disclose Canadian court appearances on the license application;
- Being an ‘unsuitable person’ due to his Canadian convictions.
Using information provided by Comm2A the individual challenged the license revocation in district court. The court ruled that, based upon US v. Small, the application question regarding criminal court appearances only applies to US courts. As such, the Canadian conviction and the applicant’s failure to disclose his Canadian court appearances were not valid reasons for revoking his license. However, the court determined, without applying the correct legal standard, that Wakefield PD was well within its ‘broad discretion’ and ‘considerable latitude’ deeming him to be an ‘unsuitable’ person.
Comm2A retained the service of Attorney Neil Tassel to appeal the district court’s decision in superior court. In a nine page decision, a Middlesex Superior Court judge found that the district court correctly ruled that ‘any court’ applies only to US jurisdictions and that failure to disclose a foreign court appearance does not render a firearms application ‘untruthful’. The court also ruled that the district court erred by affirming Wakefield PD’s suitability determination without applying the correct statutory standard for suitability.
Comm2A is more than delighted over this outcome. Courts have been agonizingly slow in forcing police chiefs to adopt the correct legal standard in determining the suitability of firearms license applicants. Receiving this decision from a superior court sets an important standard that lower courts should adopt going forward.
Comm2A Needs Your Support
This Wakefield case is an important example of the kinds of cases we’re supporting behind the scenes in local courts. While the big federal civil rights challenges remain an important part of our overall strategy, there’s a great need to selectively bring individual challenges in Massachusetts courts. Over the last year we’ve devoted more and more resources to these types of appeals.
These are all cases we pursue without partners and without the ability to recover legal fees. Please help us bring more actions like this by becoming a sustaining member or making a one-time donation.
Comm2A is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit. Donations made to Comm2A are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Additionally, many employers offer matching grants for employees who give to qualified non-profits such as Comm2A.