Massachusetts Gun Law Deemed Unconstitutional

     (CN) – Massachusetts firearms regulations violate the Second Amendment by prohibiting permanent residents from obtaining a firearms license, a federal judge ruled.



     Plaintiffs Christopher Fletcher and Eoin Pryal are lawful permanent residents of the United States, who emigrated from the United Kingdom.
     Before relocating to Cambridge, Massachusetts, Fletcher lived in California where he held a Basic Firearms Safety Certificate, which allowed him to possess firearms within the state.
     Pryal was a Rifleman in the British Territorial Army before emigrating to Northborough, Massachusetts. He currently works as an assistant instructor at the Massachusetts Firearm School in Framingham and as a customer service representative at a Massachusetts firearm manufacturer.
     Both men applied for, and were denied, a license to possess a personal firearm in their home for self-defense purposes.
     The Second Amendment Foundation and Commonwealth Second Amendment joined their suit against Robert Haas, Cambridge Commissioner of Police, Mark Leahy, the Northborough Chief of Police, and Jason Guida, the Director of the Firearms Records Bureau.
     In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock granted plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, finding, “This case presents the question whether lawful permanent resident aliens are among ‘the people’ for whom the Second Amendment the United States Constitution provides a right to bear arms. I conclude they are.”
     The ruling relied on a close reading of the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which struck down the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns. Woodlock said: “The Supreme Court, no doubt for good and sufficient reasons other than clarifying what persons were within the protection of the Second Amendment, chose the option of protecting Second Amendment rights under the Due Process clause and eschewed deployment of the Privileges and Immunities clause, which is limited to citizens. That the majority did not choose to rely on the Privileges and Immunities clause can be said to reinforce the proposition that Heller’s periodic choice to use the term ‘citizen’ to describe those protected by the Second Amendment was generated by rhetorical, not definitional, concerns.”
     For example, the majority in Heller noted that “”we do not read the Second Amendment to protect the right of citizens to carry arms for any sort of confrontation, just as we do not read the First Amendment to protect the right of citizens to speak for any purpose.”
     Woodlock said that “lawful permanent resident aliens are firmly on the path to full citizenship and … are entitled to a wide array of constitutional rights.”
     He continued: “With this framework in mind, I find no justification for refusing to extend the Second Amendment to lawful permanent residents.”
     The judge noted that Fletcher has resided and worked in the United States for 10 years, while Pryal is married to a United States citizen and is currently employed in Massachusetts. “It is beyond dispute that plaintiffs have accepted some societal obligations that place them among ‘the people’ of the United States,” Woodlock said, citing precedent.
     Additionally, “The possibility that some resident aliens are unsuited to possess a handgun does not justify a wholesale ban,” the court concluded.
     (CN) – Massachusetts firearms regulations violate the Second Amendment by prohibiting permanent residents from obtaining a firearms license, a federal judge ruled.
     Plaintiffs Christopher Fletcher and Eoin Pryal are lawful permanent residents of the United States, who emigrated from the United Kingdom.
     Before relocating to Cambridge, Massachusetts, Fletcher lived in California where he held a Basic Firearms Safety Certificate, which allowed him to possess firearms within the state.
     Pryal was a Rifleman in the British Territorial Army before emigrating to Northborough, Massachusetts. He currently works as an assistant instructor at the Massachusetts Firearm School in Framingham and as a customer service representative at a Massachusetts firearm manufacturer.
     Both men applied for, and were denied, a license to possess a personal firearm in their home for self-defense purposes.
     The Second Amendment Foundation and Commonwealth Second Amendment joined their suit against Robert Haas, Cambridge Commissioner of Police, Mark Leahy, the Northborough Chief of Police, and Jason Guida, the Director of the Firearms Records Bureau.
     In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock granted plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, finding, “This case presents the question whether lawful permanent resident aliens are among ‘the people’ for whom the Second Amendment the United States Constitution provides a right to bear arms. I conclude they are.”
     The ruling relied on a close reading of the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which struck down the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns. Woodlock said: “The Supreme Court, no doubt for good and sufficient reasons other than clarifying what persons were within the protection of the Second Amendment, chose the option of protecting Second Amendment rights under the Due Process clause and eschewed deployment of the Privileges and Immunities clause, which is limited to citizens. That the majority did not choose to rely on the Privileges and Immunities clause can be said to reinforce the proposition that Heller’s periodic choice to use the term ‘citizen’ to describe those protected by the Second Amendment was generated by rhetorical, not definitional, concerns.”
     For example, the majority in Heller noted that “”we do not read the Second Amendment to protect the right of citizens to carry arms for any sort of confrontation, just as we do not read the First Amendment to protect the right of citizens to speak for any purpose.”
     Woodlock said that “lawful permanent resident aliens are firmly on the path to full citizenship and … are entitled to a wide array of constitutional rights.”
     He continued: “With this framework in mind, I find no justification for refusing to extend the Second Amendment to lawful permanent residents.”
     The judge noted that Fletcher has resided and worked in the United States for 10 years, while Pryal is married to a United States citizen and is currently employed in Massachusetts. “It is beyond dispute that plaintiffs have accepted some societal obligations that place them among ‘the people’ of the United States,” Woodlock said, citing precedent.
     Additionally, “The possibility that some resident aliens are unsuited to possess a handgun does not justify a wholesale ban,” the court concluded.

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