Since the COVID – 19 shut down by the government, access to firearm licenses have been a tremendous problem. For the most part, the majority of cities and towns have done a fair job with renewals by mail or email. The majority of the issues were regarding new/first time applicants. This was generally caused by the inability to take fingerprints.
GOAL was considering filing a court action, but by the time we were able to find willing plaintiffs the potential case became, more or less, moot. This is because cities and towns began to reopen the process. Thus, a judge would have dismissed the case.
Instead, GOAL continued to work with state public safety officials in an effort to get local authorities to start processing new applications. Within the past few weeks we have had some success. The majority of cities and towns have started to process new applicants again. With your help, we were able to identify local authorities that needed a nudge from the state to get going. The next problem is going to be the backlog of new applicants.
With the fear of police defunding and riots across the country, there has been a rush of first time firearm license applicants. In a phone conversation with the Boston licensing officer, the Lt. told us they were “buried” in first time applications, numbering in the hundreds. Their problem is compounded by the non-officer staffers not being allowed to come back to work. Most public buildings are still closed to “non-essential” workers and the general public. That is only one city. Many more have similar issues.
We were told today that the Boxborough Chief got creative and set up a drive through fingerprinting and application processing in one of the town garages. Now that is forward thinking!
Also, contrary to some misinformation out there, the state Firearm Records Bureau (FRB) never stopped processing licenses. Even during the height of the COVID shut down the turn-around time at the state level was no more than a month. If you are being told your application is being delayed by the state, you can call the Firearms Record Bureau to find out where it stands: Phone: (617) 660-4782
The backlog of license applications is going to be the next big challenge. Some local authorities are telling new applicants the backlog is so big they may have to wait until January to get fingerprinted. This is completely unacceptable. People should not have to wait close to a year to acquire an unnecessary license to exercise a civil right they already have.
GOAL would like to thank all those who forwarded us information regarding licensing problems. We were flooded with emails and we tried to at least respond to all of them. It greatly assisted our efforts to get things going again. The next piece we will need information on is extended waits to process licenses. If you are informed that your application process will take more than the 40 days allowed by law please let us know: Jim@GOAL.org
Thanks again for all of the information and support during this civil rights crisis. GOAL will continue to do everything we can to protect your 2A civil rights.