Jun 24, 2022 - News

Massachusetts leaders brace for SCOTUS gun ruling fallout

View of the Supreme Court building from the street after the sun has fallen.

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Massachusetts leaders are already preparing for the ripple effects of the Supreme Court's ruling which struck down New York's concealed carry gun law.

Catch up fast: The high court ruled that a NY law requiring people who apply for a license to carry a concealed weapon must prove they have "proper cause" to do so is unconstitutional, reports Axios' Oriana Gonzalez.

Why it matters: The ruling will affect Massachusetts and other states with similar laws on the books.

  • People in Massachusetts seeking a license to carry a gun have to go through their local police chief, who has wide-ranging authority to determine someone's eligibility for the license.
  • Massachusetts has one of the lowest gun death rates in the country, which gun control advocates attribute to the state's firearm restrictions.
States impacted by Supreme Court ruling on New York gun law
Data: Axios research; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

What they're saying: "I stand by our commonsense gun laws and will continue to vigorously defend and enforce them," Attorney General Maura Healey said in a press release Thursday.

  • Rep. Michael Day, House chair of the legislature's judiciary committee, tells WCVB that "all options are on the table."

The other side: The Gun Owners' Action League, a Northborough-based pro-gun group, praised the decision, but said on its website their leaders will take time to process what this means for Massachusetts license holders and firearm owners.

Details: Police chiefs may currently issue a license if the applicant shows a "good reason" to have a gun, including if they fear being injured or having property damaged, the Boston Globe reports.

  • A chief can still deny someone with no criminal record if police have been called to the person's house or they have been involved in domestic violence complaints, per the Globe.

Yes, but: The exact impact on Massachusetts gun laws remains unclear. A federal judge wrote in a 2017 case that the state's law is less stringent in some ways than New York's, because the Bay State allows (rather than demands) that chiefs make applicants "demonstrate a special need for self-defense," the AP reports.

  • Lawrence Police Chief Roy Vasque tells Axios that police chiefs have discretion over how much they question an applicant's interest in carrying a gun, but he says he doesn't see a lot of variation from city to city.

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