License to Carry Suitability Win in Massachusetts Middlesex Superior Court

Gun and Gavel
License to Carry Suitability Win in Massachusetts Middlesex Superior Court

Massachusetts – -( 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.

Commonwealth Second Amendment (Comm2A)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.

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My big question is this…Why are these individuals and groups not filing massive civil rights violation lawsuits in Federal courts for infringing on one’s rights to keep and bear arms? Is there some legal reason why these are not taking place? I just believe that these things will not stop until there are multi-million dollar lawsuits that chiefs and cities have to pay or challenge to stop these illegal actions.

Jim Macklin

The future is looking better. Hawaii bans carry without a license and hasn’t issued a license in a decade. So the 3 Judge panel of the 3rd Circus has ruled that open carry is a constitutional right in Hawaii. It sounds like Hawaii will appeal to te full 9th Circus where the state ban might be supported. If it is it will go to the SCOTUS and open carry will suddenly be nationwide shall issue if a license is required. Right now somebody needs to point out that Califoricatia is mostly no issue CCW and bans open carry w/o a… Read more »


Yes, CA’s 3 large metro areas (SF Bay, LA, and San Diego), which together probably account for about half of CA’s population, are essentially CCW no-issue jurisdictions (and no open carry, either). “May issue” in theory, but “no issue” in practice. …Interestingly, someone who lives in Fresno and fairly easily gets a CCW permit there can legally carry concealed *anywhere* in the state, *including* the metro areas where the residents themselves can’t carry. More laws were passed in (IIRC) 2016 that further prohibited open carry. So those metro areas are essentially no-carry zones (except for criminals and police). In theory,… Read more »