Massachusetts Firearm Retailers to Face Annual State Inspections
Multiple Problems Already Arising
View the "Firearms Dealer Inspection - Integrated Training
View the Retailer Inspection Checklist
(This training Powerpoint was provide to GOAL by the Municipal Police Training Committee)
On February 17, 2023 Governor Healey issued a press release announcing: “…new training focused on firearms dealer inspections to help local licensing authorities comply with all state and federal laws and regulations, strengthen the gun dealer inspection process, and prevent illegal firearm trafficking.”
This announcement comes on the heels of Boston Globe hit pieces against Massachusetts Firearm Retailers. The Globe was apparently frustrated that the State’s gun laws were not being enforced, at least as they see them.
The first problem arising from this vigor to enforce the current is plainly obvious. For nearly a quarter of a century Massachusetts gun owners have struggled with many Local Licensing Authorities that make up their own rules when it comes to license application processes. During all this time, the State has consistently maintained that they have no control over the local authorities. The State further maintained that these were no State licenses (FID/LTC).
This is an interesting, convoluted stance since the firearm retailer licenses (Chapter 140, Section 122) are also issued by the Local Licensing Authorities. So, why suddenly does the State have the authority to train the local authorities on their legal obligations under this particular license?
Under Chapter 140, Section 123 the Local Licensing Authorities are required to conduct an annual inspection of all licensed retailers. The only authority they have under this law is: “…inspect, in a reasonable manner, such records and inventory for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this section…” there are two clear problems here.
First, the State law clearly requires the Commonwealth to provide a “sales record book” to all licensed retailers. To date, no such books have ever been made available. It is the practice of the State to consider the records in the Massachusetts Instant Record Check System to act as the official books. That means there are no records to inspect on the retailer premises.
Second, there is no State law requiring retailers to keep a State inventory or report such inventory. To further complicate matters if the local authorities conduct such an inspection is that Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) (as we understand it) are allowed to keep inventory that can’t be transferred in the Commonwealth. So, what exactly will they be inspecting?
Gun Owners’ Action League (GOAL) has requested a copy of the training curriculum for this inspection training because the list included in the press release falls far out of the enumerated authority. One, almost laughable, bullet point is “Assault Weapon Identification” – good luck with that. We have been trying to get a clear definition ever since Healey’s reckless, unilateral action in 2016.
GOAL will continue to monitor this latest convoluted effort and seek further explanations and clarity.
Chapter 140, Section 123: “That every licensee shall, before delivery of a firearm, rifle or shotgun, make or cause to be made a true, legible entry in a sales record book to be furnished by the commissioner of the department of criminal justice information services and to be kept for that purpose…”
Chapter 140 Section 123 allows Local Licensing Authorities: The licensing authority shall enter, one time per calendar year, during regular business hours, the commercial premises owned or leased by any licensee, wherein such records required to be maintained under this section are stored or maintained, and inspect, in a reasonable manner, such records and inventory for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this section.
Municipal Police Training Committee
The course curriculum will provide participants with best practices, a comprehensive review of inspection requirements, and the steps required to suspend or deny a dealer license. Participants will also review how to issue a violation and report violations to the appropriate authorities.
Other training topics include:
· Massachusetts Licensing Authority Inspection Responsibility
· Massachusetts Inspection Steps, Techniques, and Outcomes
· Shop Inspection Requirements
· Record Keeping Requirements
· Transfer/Sales Requirements
· Assault Weapon Identification and Overview
· Common State Violations
· ATF Inspections, Techniques, and Involvement
· Crime Gun Reporting and Tracing
Governor Healey’s Press Release: https://www.mass.gov/news/healey-driscoll-administration-launches-new-training-focused-on-firearms-dealer-inspections
Retailer Law Chapter 140, Section 123: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXX/Chapter140/Section123