GOAL to File Amicus Brief in Storage Case
Gun Owners' Action League is joining forces with the Second Amendment Foundation, Attorney Alan Gura (of the Heller Case) and Attorney Ed George to file a friend of the court brief (Amicus Curiae) in the Runyan case. Commonwealth vs. Richard Runyan SJC-10480 (http://www.ma-appellatecourts.org/display_docket.php?dno=SJC-10480) is a case that is going to appear before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court regarding a charge of unlawful storage of a rifle and a shotgun that originated in the Lowell District Court.
In September of 2008 the plaintiff's attorney filed a motion to dismiss the unlawful storage charge citing the recent "Heller" decision. In October of 2007 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in District of Colombia ET AL. v. Heller: "In sum, we hold that the District's ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense."
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts unsuccessfully argued against the motion to dismiss based on Heller. The Commonwealth claimed that Massachusetts storage laws do not infringe upon an individual's right to possess and carry a weapon for immediate self defense. On October 17, 2008 the Lowell District Court Judge allowed the motion to dismiss the charge. He stated in his order in favor of the defendant that "the Court is unable to distinguish the provisions of General Law ch. 140, § 131l from those struck down in Heller."
The Runyan case is not the only time a District Court Judge has struck down unlawful storage charges based on the Heller decision. There is at least one more that we were made aware of. It comes from the Barnstable District Court in Commonwealth vs. Richard R. Bolduc. In this case the defendant was charged with the unlawful storage of a handgun.
In this case the Judge also ruled in favor of the defendant and allowed a motion to dismiss the charge based on Heller. The Judge stated in her ruling: "Any ambiguity in the statute as applied to a person lawfully keeping a firearm in the home must be resolved in favor of the holder of the right." "In light of the forgoing, the Court finds that, based on the Supreme Court's decision in District of Colombia v. Heller, G.L. c.140, sec. 131L is unconstitutional."
The difference between the cases was that the Bolduc decision was not appealed by the Commonwealth. The Runyan decision has been appealed and is scheduled to go before the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (SJC). In the order to do so it states: "The parties agree that direct appellate review is appropriate because the questions presented are ones of first impression in Massachusetts and involve questions of law pertaining to the United States Constitution, the Massachusetts Constitution and statutory law." The Runyan case is scheduled to be heard before the SJC in October.
Anti-civil rights organizations such as the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, International Brotherhood Police, Legal Community Against Violence, Massachusetts Chiefs of Police, Massachusetts Million Mom March and Stop Handgun Violence have already rushed to file their briefs arguing the success of gun control. It is already common knowledge that Massachusetts gun control laws, including storage laws, have been an abhorrent failure. With that knowledge, it is no surprise that former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger is the lead counsel filing the briefs on behalf of the anti-civil rights organizations.
As our members are well aware, Scott Harshbarger abused his "consumer protection" authority as Attorney General and promulgated the fraudulent handgun regulations in the mid 1990's.
As we can plainly see from the figures provided (chart below) by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Injury Surveillance Program numbers, none of the gun laws, regulations or policies of the Commonwealth has had any positive affect at reducing accidental gun deaths in Massachusetts. It is not surprising that the same groups who supported and promoted the disastrous gun laws and policies in Massachusetts would rush to the SJC to defend them. They know full well that a loss at the SJC level would be the beginning of the end of their long persecution of the lawful gun owners of the Commonwealth.
As this column is being written the final draft of the GOAL/SAF brief is being finalized. It will be interesting to see how the SJC handles this case since the lead part of our team in filing the brief is Attorney Alan Gura, the very man who won the Heller case before the Supreme Court of the United States.
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