Action Needed to Stop Boston Home Rule Petition
The Boston City Council has proposed a “Home Rule Petition” that would do away with the long standing exemption allowing a citizen to keep a firearm (handgun) in their home or place of business without a handgun license. Gun Owners’ Action League has several concerns with the language and possible consequences of this petition.
The first issue with this proposal is that the Boston City Council is now challenging the most basic part of the Second Amendment to the Constitution by eliminating a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms in their own home or place of business. This proposal does not specifically address criminals keeping firearms in their residence, only citizens in general. Rather, it would put lawful citizens in jail for harming no one. This is what is now being referred to as a “No Harm Crime”.
Secondly, the creators of this proposal have deliberately ignored a long-standing right of citizens of the Commonwealth as upheld by the courts, and falsely label the intent of the legislation as correction of an “oversight”.
Specifically, in the preamble to the Home Rule Petition concerning this law change, it refers to the long standing exemption as a “legislative oversight”. This could not be further from the truth. Oversights do occur in laws and legislation, but these normally happen when the legal language is too long and complicated. While it is abundantly clear that the Massachusetts gun laws are confusing as a whole, the exemption for having a firearm in the home or place of business appears in the first few words of the section of law in question. It would be very difficult to call this an oversight.
Chapter 269: Section 10. (a) Whoever, except as provided or exempted by statute, knowingly has in his possession; or knowingly has under his control in a vehicle; a firearm, loaded or unloaded, as defined in section one hundred and twenty-one of chapter one hundred and forty without either:
(1) being present in or on his residence or place of business; or
Historically the laws regarding ownership or possession of a firearm in the home or business without a license has been upheld by the courts. For the most part, the courts have ruled that the individual must at least hold an FID card.
Commonwealth v. Seay, (1978), Commonwealth v. Landry (1978), Commonwealth v. Dunphy (1979), Commonwealth v. Morse (1981), Commonwealth v. Morales (1982), Commonwealth v. Walker (1983), Commonwealth v. Ramirez (1990), Commonwealth v. Belding (1997), Commonwealth v. Coren (2002), Commonwealth v. Castillo (2006)
When the laws were changed in 1998, new language stated an FID card was no longer valid for the possession of a firearm in the home, unless it was purchased on a temporary license to carry.
It is clear that the supporters of the new laws purposely left in place the exemption for home or business stated in Chapter 269 presumably because it was well known that the state would never be able to keep up with the licensing requirements that were being put in place. This was made clear by the August 2002 Post Audit and Oversight committee report that revealed that after four years only 68,000 of the 1,200,000 FID Card holders had renewed their cards.
Finally, and most seriously, this home rule petition attempts to breach a long standing principle of the General Laws by allowing a city to levy jail time for violation of a crime. That prerogative has long been held by the Commonwealth. This bridge should never be crossed, and certainly not over this anti-civil rights petition. As bad as the gun laws are in this state already are, imagine the chaos if cities and towns were allowed to impose their own restrictions on our second amendment rights. The state has already demonstrated its inability to educate lawful gun owners on statewide laws and regulations, there would be no hope of educating the public on laws for every individual city or town.
Please contact your state representative and state senator and urge them to vote down this home rule petition. To find out your representative, and senator, you can use the alphabetical link at www.mass.gov/legis or go to www.wheredoIvotema.com and enter your address (scroll down to representative and senator in general court).
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GOAL is the Official State Association of the National Rifle Association