Stephen F. Burke

Stephen F. Burke

Representing Citizens with Firearms Permit Difficulties in Western Massachusetts

Defending The 2nd Amendment!

Serving all of Western Massachusetts including Springfield, Agawam, Westfield, Longmeadow, Holyoke, Chicopee, Northampton, Belchertown, Granby, Deerfield and Greenfield.

Frequently Asked Questions

Commonly asked Questions and Situations

Q. I had an LTC/FID Card for several years and now the police chief will not renew my LTC. What’s the story?

A. The story is that some type of court history is now coming back to haunt you. Prior to the passage of Chapter 180 and Chapter 284 of the Massachusetts General Laws, certain convictions did not disqualify a person from an LTC, now they do. The laws have been changed and applied retroactively. No such thing as being “grandfathered”. Convictions for some of those offenses may be invalid and subject to relief. Misdemeanor drug convictions may be sealed under M.G.L. Ch. 94C, sec. 34.

Q. What can a person do about an old misdemeanor drug conviction that now disqualifies him/her from getting an LTC?

A.At least two remedies are available. The first is to attack the old conviction in the court where it was imposed. The second is to Petition the District Court to seal the record under M.G.L. Ch. 94C, sec. 34.

Q. I have an out of state arrest that occurred several years ago and in the mean time held an LTC and have never been arrested in Massachusetts, now the police chief won’t renew my LTC. What’s the story and what can I do about that?

A. Basically nothing, at least in Massachusetts. No relief for an out of state conviction can be obtained in Massachusetts. After all, the offense was not against the state of Massachusetts. Any post conviction relief needed to make a person eligible for an LTC must be obtained in the state where the conviction was imposed. When my service are needed for clients with out of state convictions, referrals and requests for assistance are made to the General Counsel of the National Rifle Association so that competent local counsel may be retained.

Q. I used to have an LTC/FID Card but lost interest in shooting for several years and let my license expire, where do I stand and what should I do?

A. The first thing you should do is go to the police station in your town and apply for a renewal of your expired license. Providing nothing has happened since your license expired that would disqualify you from renewal, you would be subject to a civil fine of $100. You would not be subject to a criminal prosecution

Q. I was convicted of Operating Under the Influence after May 29, 1994 and am now disqualified from having/renewing my LTC. Is there anything that can be done to restore my Second Amendment rights?

A.Yes, providing Five years have passed since you were released from probation and completed all terms imposed by the court and have not had any further legal issues, you can petition the Firearms Licensing Review Board for relief from the licensing disability the conviction is causing.

Q. I have an old juvenile court conviction that now disqualifies me from either an LTC or FID Card. I thought juvenile records were permanently sealed. What if anything can be done?

A. The only remedy available to you is post conviction relief in the juvenile court where you were prosecuted. You would need to vacate the old conviction by having a motion for a new trial allowed and getting your case disposed of without a finding of guilt or delinquency. As far as firearms licensing is concerned, there is no such thing as a “sealed record”. Juvenile convictions cannot be expunged and made to disappear. The FLRB does not have jurisdiction over juvenile felony convictions. The likelihood of obtaining a governor’s pardon to get a gun license is beyond remote. That is a privilege for the ultra well connected and ultra rich people. Unrestricted governor’s pardons are granted every 30-40 years. If you are looking for a pardon from the governor, the lawyer you should contact is the one who donated the most money to the governor’s election campaign.

Q. How long does it take for a petition to the Firearms Licensing Review Board to be decided?

A. Realistically, about 10-12 months.

Q. I was recently arrested and I received a letter from the police chief suspending my LTC/FID and ordering me to surrender my firearms. What should I do?

A1. Enter a plea of “not guilty” at your first court appearance and do not try to resolve the case yourself. Do not talk to the prosecutor or any police officers. Their goal is to obtain a conviction. Your goal is to avoid a conviction and keep your license. The prosecutor or police officers are not at all concerned about your LTC. The prosecutor and police officers, no matter how much they smile, are not your friends, understand that clearly. Just because you have might have an interest in common with the police officer like the Red Sox, a political figure or any other subject does not necessarily endear you to that cop and will not stop him/her from arresting you. Oftentimes you are seen as an opportunity to go to court on his/her day off and get get paid overtime. Remember, when you are a gun owner, cops are not your friend no matter what kind of bumper sticker is on your car.

A2. Retain a lawyer immediately and make your lawyer aware that you have an LTC/FID that you do not want to lose. If your lawyer does not understand your concerns about keeping your license then you may want to get a lawyer who does. A conviction on any misdemeanor offense will result in a suspension or revocation of your license for a minimum period of five years. Most misdemeanor convictions in Massachusetts will will permanently prohibit you from ever again having a firearm license because they have a maximum possible sentence of two and one half years in jail.

A3. Have you or your lawyer meet with the police chief and follow his/her order to the letter. If your firearms are not seized as evidence in the crime you are charged with, you have the right to transfer them to another licensed person who can hold them for you until the case is resolved. If you fail to claim your firearms, the police department may decide to send them to a bonded warehouse for storage. If they are transferred to a , warehouse you will probably never see them again, as storage fees will increase at an exponential rate and your valuable guns will be seized to pay storage charges. If you really want to know more about this racket, look up the case of Jarvis v. Village Vault, a case presently being litigated in federal court.

A4. No matter how insignificant the charge may be or how innocent you feel you may be, you now have a very high stakes situation on your hands. You are now in a damage control mode and must proceed very carefully, otherwise things could go completely wrong and you could wind up permanently prohibited from ever possessing a firearm again.

A5. If you win your case or the charges are eventually dismissed, you are entitled to reclaim your guns and license. You just have to “play out the hand” and “roll with the punches” while the case is pending. There is no easy way.

Q. Has the recent US Supreme Court decision in the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen had any effect on the citizens of Massachusetts?

A. Absolutely. But Rome was not built in a day and the results of favorable decisions from the Supreme Court are not realized overnight However, its holding is slowly making its impact into our lives. Throughout the United States there are 2A cases in various stages of litigation in both the federal district courts and courts of appeal.

Massachusetts is located in the 1st Federal Circuit. The 1st Circuit has throughout time been particularly hostile to the Second Amendment and it will take some time for the Bruen case to have any impact in the state of Massachusetts.

In Massachusetts, a 1976 state supreme court decision, Commonwealth v. Davis, 369 Mass.886 (1976) ruled there was no individual right to own a firearm under Article 17 of the Massachusetts Constitution. Subsequent decisions in state courts embraced that precedent and built on it. The Massachusetts case, Moyer v. Chief of Shelburne, 16 Mass.App.Ct 543 (1983) gave police chiefs broad powers to determine who is a “suitable person”, while at the same time giving no guidance or standards to determine what constitutes a “suitable person” Tremendous advantages were identified and were made available to police chiefs to defend and support their actions if an applicant were to challenge the chief’s decision. The chief’s decision was presumed to be correct and the chief was allowed to utilize hearsay evidence to make that determination. Evidence standards that would never be tolerated in any other court proceeding were embraced and made into law.

The immediate effect of the Bruen case in Massachusetts is that the police chief can no longer restrict your LTC to Hunting/Target. All Lawful Purposes and Constitutional Carry is now the law.

Massachusetts is trying to do an “end run” around Bruen and persists in applying the now discredited “suitable person” standard to deny an LTC application.

The Supreme Court, in the Bruen case rejected the element of subjectivity that the application of “suitable person” standard creates and ruled that it is as a violation of a citizen’s constitutional rights. But Massachusetts is desperately trying to hang on to that standard now in use and is not likely to give it up without a fifteen round right.

In the unlikely event that politicians in Massachusetts accept, adopt and follow the ruling of the Supreme Court when they cook up another “gun safety” scheme to impose on the citizenry, we can expect challenges to their work product in federal court for the next several years. Stay tuned.