BOSTON — House and Senate lawmakers have agreed on legislation that will update and clarify Massachusetts’ gun application laws following the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding firearm possession in public places, Speaker Ron Mariano said Thursday.
The 6-3 decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen last month struck down a New York law that made gun owners show proper cause to obtain a concealed weapon permit. In its ruling, the court singled out Massachusetts’ “good reason” provision, a requirement for license to carry applicants to provide a good reason to carry a firearm, labeling it unconstitutional.
“In the short-term, House leadership reached an agreement with Senate leadership…to expedite legislation needed to come into compliance with the Bruen decision while proactively safeguarding exiting components of our guns laws and future challenges,” Mariano said in a statement.
Rep. Michael Day, a democrat from Stoneham, helped craft the legislation that he said will focus only on the “licensing aspect” of applying for a License to Carry in Massachusetts.
“We’ll be removing the inquiry that the Bruen case said we could no longer make, which is, ‘Why do you need that firearm?’” Day said.
In a joint-advisory following the court’s decision, Attorney General Maura Healey said licensing authorities should continue to enforce the “prohibited person” and “suitability” provisions of the license-to-carry statute.
“Authorities should no longer deny, or impose restrictions on, a license to carry because the applicant lacks a sufficiently good reason to carry a fire harm. An applicant who is neither a ‘prohibited person’ or ‘unsuitable’ must be issued an unrestricted license to carry,” the AG’s guidance said.
Day said one example of a prohibited person is someone subject to a restraining order.
“People are free to apply for firearms. We want to make sure that our licensing authorities are considering who should actually get them, who is safe and who is not,” Day said.
Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners’ Action League, argues “good reason” and “suitability” are the same thing.
“There’s no way this is going to pass constitutional muster,” Wallace said. “Suitability cannot be objective. That’s what the court hammered on, that any background check, any system, must be equal for every citizen of the Commonwealth and that it has to be purely objective. Suitability can’t be objective.”
Mariano said the legislation will be on Gov. Baker’s desk before the legislative session ends July 31.
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