“The current policy violates Massachusetts General Law, as well as infringes upon Constitutional Rights,” stated the petition, created by Dan Gannon and signed by 10 supporters. “We demand that if the Legislature determines that this policy does not comply with Massachusetts General Laws or the U.S. Constitution, (Police Superintendent William Taylor) must immediately be required to remove said policy from the licensing process.”
The City Council voted unanimously to send the petition to the city’s Law Department for review.
The city’s current unrestricted gun licensing policy was put into place in early 2016. The restricted license permits residents to keep guns in their homes, while the unrestricted gun licenses allows owners to carry guns outside their residences.
As the unrestricted license policy reads, applicants must take a safety course and submit a written supplement — often described as an essay by local gun-right advocates — explaining the reason(s) for seeking the license. The applicant must also obtain recommendations.
Until last year’s policy change, unrestricted licenses were only given to previous victims of violent crime and to people whose jobs required them to carry large amounts of cash.
Taylor pointed out that the licenses were rarely distributed for roughly three decades during this policy’s existence.
“The focus of the policy change was to give more people access to unrestricted licenses,” Taylor said a few days prior to Tuesday night’s meeting. “I think the policy has absolutely worked with respect to that.”
He pointed out since the policy change they’ve had 169 restricted licenses to carry changed to unrestricted licenses, with a total of three people being rejected.
“Those three rejections were for background reasons that were required by the state licensee,” Taylor said.
Gannon, along with other gun-rights advocates have stated that the licensing policy duplicates the state law and that no police chiefs should have the right to make their own rules in addition to the state gun laws. He added that the policy acts as a roadblock for law-abiding citizens.
“I am confident that the policy’s illegality because I have spent the last two years roaming the state house halls, talking to whoever will listen,” Gannon told councilors on Tuesday night. “I’ve worked with gun rights associations and no one can tell me anywhere that the licensing authority can do whatever they want.”
Gannon, a certified firearms instructor, runs a Facebook page titled “Lowell Gun Owner’s.” He became a certified firearms instructor in 2016 so he could help more people exercise their Second Amendment rights, he said. He has not fulfilled the requirements of the unrestricted license policy, expressing his refusal to give in to what he describes as unjust requirements.
“The (Massachusetts) State Police have certified me to train other people in firearm safety in the home and to teach live fire classes,” Gannon said. “But for some reason I still would not be qualified for an unrestricted license unless I put words on paper.”
After Tuesday night’s meeting, City Councilor Corey Belanger called himself a “Second Amendment guy” stressing that Lowell residents should be able to have access their Constitutional rights without an “extreme vetting process.” He also supported Taylor’s moves to curb gun crimes in the city.
“But it is their Second Amendment right,” Belanger said. “They’re law abiding citizens, they should be allowed to have a gun, so let’s work on a common ground here.”
Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtins
Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/breakingnews/ci_31383200/lowell-firearms-licensing-policy-under-fire-at-council#ixzz4vrXDJ4rv