Interstate license to carry by Tom Reynolds
Massachusetts, like New York, is noted for ignoring the Supreme Court’s decisions on the 2nd Amendment. For instance, in Caetano v Massachusetts, every Massachusetts’ court ruled that a stun gun was illegal in Massachusetts because it did not exist at the time the 2nd Amendment was passed. It took the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to remind Massachusetts’ courts that SCOTUS had already said that guns did not have to be in existence in 1792 to be legal.
Much to our surprise and delight, in another case, one Massachusetts district court recently obeyed SCOTUS rulings. While the decision only applied to this specific case, it provides the rationale for concealed carry reciprocity between states.
In the Commonwealth v. Dean Donnell, a New Hampshire man (Donnell) was charged in a Massachusetts’ District court for carrying a firearm in Massachusetts without a non-resident license to carry (LTC).
Donnell’s legal team filed a motion to dismiss the case claiming the law violates the Second Amendment and, therefore, is unconstitutional. In the Bruen decision, SCOTUS ruled that the 2nd Amendment must be interpreted based on the text, history, and tradition of the Second Amendment as it was understood when the amendment was passed in 1792. Donnell’s legal team argued that “there is no historical analogue burdening the right to interstate travel” with a firearm.
Also, Donnell argued that the defendant’s rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution were also violated since LTCs for Massachusetts residents are good for five years but a Non-state resident’s temporary LTC must be renewed annually.
Because Massachusetts could not give an example of a similar law stopping an otherwise law-abiding citizen from carrying a firearm outside their home state during the ratification of the Second Amendment, the judge ruled that the law Donnell was accused of violating was inconsistent with the text, history, and tradition of the Second Amendment.
The judge also applied the Equal Protection Clause by pointing out the difference in the length of time a non-resident and a resident license lasted.
The judge also rejected the state’s claim “that the licensing scheme imposes a permissible burden because of the substantial state interest in preventing certain people from possessing firearms.” The judge pointed out that certain people are already prohibited by federal law, so the state’s argument wasn’t valid.
As we often point out, criminals already ignore gun control laws while most gun control laws make criminals of otherwise law-abiding citizens. The judge said that a person should not become a felon for exercising a constitutional right while passing through Massachusetts.
The judge dismissed the case. As we said, this case is a state-level case and only affects the defendant but provides a rationale for reciprocity.