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Baker Administration Willfully Ignoring the Breadth of Bruen

On September 1, 2022 Gun Owners’ Action League (GOAL) sent a letter to the Massachusetts Environmental Policeregarding the NYSRPA v Bruen decision. The intention of the correspondence was to inform them that it was GOAL’s opinion that various statutes relating to the possession/carrying of firearms were a violation of our civil rights. Our understanding is that these laws are no longer be enforceable in light of NYSRPA v Bruen decision.

The statutes in questions included:

In our letter we outlined that the Bruen decision clearly defined that government can only limit the carrying of firearms in “historically sensitive areas” such as courthouses and schools. There is lengthy discussion and clarification of this in the Court’s Opinion. As such, the woods and fields of Massachusetts cannot legally be interpreted as “historically sensitive area.” Thus, in GOAL’s opinion, these laws are no longer be enforceable.

After two months of waiting for a response, GOAL finally received a telephone call from an attorney at the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA). During the call, we attempted to further clarify GOAL’s position that a continuation of these carry restrictions was a violation of Bruen’s broad protection.

At first we got an historic lecture on the State’s authority to manage wildlife, but we informed them that was not part of our argument since the laws in question were restricting non-hunters. Then the State argued that the ATV law was about safe storage which was clearly ridiculous. Then we were informed that Bruen was only about licensing and made no mention of carry restrictions. When they ran out of made-up reasons, we were simply informed they would be taking no action. When we asked them to put their opinions in writing, they declined. Later that day we received an email with a previous July 13, 2022 letter from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security that expressed the State’s limited acceptance of Bruen.

Especially in light of the results of Tuesday’s election, EEA’s willful ignorance of the breadth of the decision was disturbing at best. As a result, GOAL is already consulting with Comm2A about potential litigation.

The Commonwealth must be made to understand that their willful ignorance of the precedent established in Bruen is unacceptable. This case was about more than simply licensing processes, it was about the fundamental civil right of all citizens to self-defense, the state should not be allowed to arbitrarily dismiss the entirety of the decision.

Some excerpts of the Bruen decision on “historically sensitive areas”:

The Court affirms Heller’s recognition that States may forbid public carriage in “sensitive places.” Ante, at 21–22. But what, in 21st-century New York City, may properly be considered a sensitive place?

On the other hand, the Court also tells us that “expanding the category of ‘sensitive places’ simply to all places of public congregation that are not isolated from law enforcement defines that category far too broadly.”

That said respondents’ attempt to characterize New York’s proper-cause requirement as a “sensitive-place” law lacks merit because there is no historical basis for New York to effectively declare the island of Manhattan a “sensitive place” simply because it is crowded and protected generally by the New York City Police Department.




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