Four Wins In A Month!

Heads must be spinning at the Brady Campaign’s headquarters with news that the Second Amendment Foundation just won its fourth Second Amendment case this month. The latest case is from Massachusetts where U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodcock found that the commonwealth’s ban on handgun possession by permanent resident aliens contravened the Second Amendment.

From the Second Amendment Foundation’s announcement of their win in Fletcher v. Haas:

SAF WINS 2A CASE IN MASS, STRIKING DOWN GUN BAN FOR LEGAL ALIENS

For Immediate Release: 3/30/2012

BELLEVUE, WA – A Federal District Court Judge in Massachusetts today granted summary judgment in a Second Amendment Foundation case challenging that state’s denial of firearms licenses to permanent resident aliens.

U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodcock concluded that “…the Massachusetts firearms regulatory regime as applied to the individual plaintiffs, contravenes the Second Amendment.”

The case involves two Massachusetts residents, Christopher Fletcher and Eoin Pryal, whose applications for licenses to possess firearms in their homes for immediate self-defense purposes were denied under a state law that does not allow non-citizens to own handguns. SAF was joined in the case by Commonwealth Second Amendment, Inc. and the two individual plaintiffs. The case is Fletcher v. Haas.

“This is our fourth court victory this month in our campaign to win back firearms freedoms one lawsuit at a time,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “It is one more step toward repairing decades of Second Amendment erosion.”

In his 41-page ruling, Judge Woodcock wrote, “The Massachusetts firearms regulatory regime, as applied to Fletcher and Pryal, does not pass constitutional muster regardless of whether intermediate scrutiny or strict scrutiny applies…The possibility that some resident aliens are unsuited to possess a handgun does not justify a wholesale ban.”

“With each strategic victory over a specific statute,” Gottlieb said, “SAF and its fellow plaintiffs are advancing the line a little more. Since our landmark victory in the McDonald case that incorporated the Second Amendment to the states, we’ve been carefully picking laws to challenge, chipping away at years of gun control extremism. So far this month, we have posted victories in Maryland, North Carolina, Washington and now, Massachusetts.

“Our battle is hardly finished,” Gottlieb concluded. “We’ve got to roll back generations of onerous gun laws. It’s going to be a long march, and these wins are just the first small steps.”

Commonwealth Second Amendment Sues Massachusetts In Federal Court

Commonwealth Second Amendment or Comm2A has filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts challenging the state’s use of bonded warehouses for holding confiscated firearms.

Comm2A Sues over Property Forfeiture

For Immediate Release: 3/28/2012

NATICK, MA – Commonwealth Second Amendment, Inc. (Comm2A) has filed suit in federal court in Massachusetts challenging the state’s misuse of bonded warehouses to force the forfeiture of privately owned firearms in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process guarantees.

Comm2A’s lawsuit on behalf of Russell Jarvis, James Jarvis and Robert Crampton is supported in part by a grant from the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund. Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys David Jensen of New York and Patrick M. Groulx of Somerville, Massachusetts. Defendants are Village Vault, Inc. and Mary E. Heffernan, Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. Complaint

Massachusetts law allows police departments to turn confiscated firearms over to unregulated bonded warehouses who then charge the firearm owners onerous and prohibitive fees for the storage and ‘administration’ of those firearms. Bonded warehouses are authorized to sell these firearms once accumulated fees are in arrears for 90 days.

Massachusetts has failed to regulate bonded warehouses allowing them to levy fees that quickly exceed the value of the confiscated property and virtually assure that confiscated property is forfeit to the bonded warehouse. In many cases gun owners are not properly notified that their property has been transferred to a bonded warehouse until fees have accumulated to a point where they exceed the value of the seized property making their recovery economically irrational.

Valuable firearms belonging to each of the individual plaintiffs were involuntarily transferred to the bonded warehouse operated by defendant Village Vault. Those firearms were subsequently sold at auction by the defendant. In no instance did the plaintiffs have any meaningful opportunity to challenge the forfeiture of their property in a court or other neutral venue. None of individual plaintiffs have ever been convicted of or charged with any crime or are otherwise disqualified from possessing firearms under state or federal law.

*****

Commonwealth Second Amendment (Comm2A) (www.comm2a.org) is a Massachusetts based non-profit dedicated to preserving and expanding the rights of gun owners in the northeast. Our activities include educational programs designed to promote a better understanding of Massachusetts and Federal firearms laws and rights as well as legal action programs to defend and protect the civil rights of Massachusetts gun owners.

Dog Bites Man Or Is This Really News

In news from Greater Boston, comes a press release that the mayor of the City of Peabody has joined Mayor Bloomberg’s Illegal Mayors.

Peabody Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. announced yesterday that he has joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a bipartisan coalition of 600 mayors committed to keeping guns out of criminal hands.

Having a mayor from relatively anti-gun Massachusetts (or as JayG calls it, the Volksrepublik) join an anti-gun group of mayors is not news. It is just the same old tired gun prohibitionists rehashing the same old tired news.

However, if Mayor Bettencourt had resigned from MAIG and said he was pushing for real shall-issue concealed carry for Massachusetts, now THAT would be news.

SAF Sues Massachusetts On Gun Rights For Legal Resident Aliens

The Second Amendment Foundation along with Commonwealth Second Amendment is suing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts because of their refusal to grant legal resident aliens the ability to obtain a Firearms ID Card or a License to Carry.

As was the case in two earlier suits involving legal resident aliens, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is on shakey legal ground denying them permits. Laws that discriminate based on “alienage” are subject to strict scrutiny. I am a bit surprised that the ACLU of Massachusetts didn’t see fit to bring this case as they did in Kentucky and South Dakota. Here is a link to the Kentucky case for some background on how courts have dealt with denial of gun rights to legal resident aliens.

SAF SUES OVER MASSACHUSETTS GUN BAN FOR LEGAL ALIEN RESIDENTS

BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation today filed a federal lawsuit challenging a law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that denies legal resident aliens the licenses required to possess a handgun in the home for self-defense, or purchase any kind of firearm.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Joining SAF in this lawsuit are Commonwealth Second Amendment, a Massachusetts grassroots organization, and two British citizens who reside in the commonwealth. They are represented by attorney Joseph M. Hickson III of Springfield. Defendants are Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert C. Haas, Northboro Police Chief Mark k. Leahy and Jason A. Guida, director of the Firearms Records Bureau in Chelsea.

The lawsuit alleges that Christopher M. Fletcher of Cambridge and Eoin M. Pryal of Northboro – both legal resident aliens – have been specifically denied the ability to obtain a Firearms Identification Card or a License to Carry of any kind. Before moving to Massachusetts, Fletcher lived in California, where he had a Basic Firearms Safety certificate and Handgun Safety certificate, which allowed him to purchase and own firearms including handguns. Pryal, who is married to a citizen of this country, and had a shotgun certificate and international dealer’s license while living in the United Kingdom.

“One of the fundamental principles in this country is that people have rights,” said SAF Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “Among those rights is the right of self-defense, especially in one’s own home. Christopher Fletcher and Eoin Pryal live here legally, they have been firearms owners, they are productive members of the community, yet they are being denied a basic right by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This is wrong and our court challenge aims to correct that.”

“This lawsuit truly illustrates the contradictory and irrational nature of the Commonwealths’ firearms laws,” Comm2A President Brent Carlton added. “Governor Deval Patrick’s administration has broadly supported the immigrant community and noted our dependence on them for our continued prosperity while Massachusetts law treats those same individuals as inherently dangerous enough to justify their exclusion from certain fundamental rights protected by the Constitution of the United States. This blanket prohibition runs contrary to the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and today’s challenge is supported overwhelmingly by well-established legal precedent.”

The Second Amendment Foundation has posted a copy of the complaint in Fletcher et al v. Haas et al here.

Microstamping Bill Introduced In Massachusetts

Rep. David Paul Linsky (D-Middlesex) has introduced House Bill 1561 in the Massachusetts State House. The bill would mandate all semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and pistols sold or manufactured in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts be capable of imprinting a “microstamp” on the face of a cartridge effective January 1, 2012.

The text of the bill reads:

SECTION 1. Chapter 269 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2004 Official Edition, is hereby amended by deleting Section 11E and inserting the following new section:-

Chapter 269: Section 11E. Serial identification numbers on firearms.

Section 11E.

(A) All firearms, rifles and shotguns of new manufacture, manufactured or delivered to any licensed dealer within the commonwealth shall bear serial numbers permanently inscribed on a visible metal area of said firearm, rifle or shotgun, and the manufacturer of said firearm, rifle or shotgun shall keep records of said serial numbers and the dealer, distributor or person to whom the firearm, rifle or shotgun was sold or delivered.

No licensed dealer shall order for delivery, cause to be delivered, offer for sale or sell within the commonwealth any newly manufactured firearm, rifle or shotgun received directly from a manufacturer, wholesaler or distributor not so inscribed with a serial number nor shall any licensed manufacturer or distributor of firearms, rifles or shotguns deliver or cause to be delivered within the commonwealth any firearm, rifle or shotgun not complying with this section.

No licensed manufacturer within the commonwealth shall produce for sale within the United States, its territories or possessions any firearm, rifle or shotgun not complying with paragraph one of this section. Whoever violates this section shall be punished by a fine of five hundred dollars. Each such violation shall constitute a separate offense.

(B) All semiautomatic firearms as defined in Chapter 140 Section 21 manufactured or delivered to any licensed dealer within the commonwealth shall be capable of microstamping ammunition.

(C) For purposes of subparagraph (B), a firearm is capable of microstamping ammunition if –
(i) a microscopic array of characters that identify the make, model, and serial number of the of the firearm is etched into the breech face and firing pin of the firearm; and
(ii) when ammunition is fired from the firearm, the characters are copied from the breech face and firing pin onto the cartridge case of the ammunition.

(D) Subparagraph (B) shall apply only to semiautomatic firearms which –
(i) are manufactured, or imported into the Commonwealth on or after the effective date of this subsection;
and
(ii) have not been transferred to a person not licensed under Chapter 140 of the general laws.

(D) Whoever violates paragraph (B) shall be fined an amount equal to –
(i) in the case of a first such violation by the violator, $1,000 multiplied by the number of firearms involved in the violation;
(ii) in the case of a second violation by the violator, $2,000 multiplied by the number of firearms involved in the violation;
(iii) in the case of a third such violation by the violator, $3,000 multiplied by the number of firearms involved in the violation.

(E) The effective date of this act shall be January 1, 2012.

The NRA-ILA had this to say, in part, about the bill:

If passed, the availability of semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and handguns in Massachusetts could be in jeopardy, as manufacturers simply may choose not to build or sell firearms for purchase in the state. In fact, this bill would likely create a de facto ban on new semi-automatic firearms.

Unless I am misunderstanding the language of this bill, both Smith & Wesson and Savage would be impacted by this bill as they both have manufacturing operations in the state and both make semi-automatic firearms.

Smith & Wesson would feel the heavier impact as they manufacture more semi-autos. Given that they were given a grant by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to expand operations in Springfield while at the same time closing their Thompson-Center plant in New Hampshire just a couple of months ago, one must wonder if they are having second thoughts.

As it is, microstamping is an unproven, untested, and unreliable technology that can be defeated with a common nail file. If the true intent of Rep. Linsky and his fellow compatriots was to drive the gun makers out of the Commonwealth and kill job creation in Massachusetts, then they just might succeed if this bill passes.

And In Massachusetts News…

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts approved $6 million in tax incentives to help Smith and Wesson expand their manufacturing plant in Springfield. According to the Boston Globe, this was the second-largest tax incentive award by the commonwealth in 2010.

The $6 million in tax breaks, which will be spread out over seven years, work out to nearly $27,000 per job and form the second-largest incentive package the state has awarded this year. The state recently reconfigured its tax incentive program to steer more money to manufacturers and other companies with significant out-of-state sales, and to give preference to businesses expanding in poorer cities such as Springfield.

Smith and Wesson is expanding their Springfield plant as they shift production from their Thompson/Center plant in New Hampshire. They plan to add 225 new jobs at the Springfield plant. Greg Bialecki, Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development called it a very big expansion for western Massachusetts.

The company announced the award on December 21st in a press release on their investor website. They noted the company had been approached by other cities and states to expand outside of Massachusetts.

The award resulted after several months of discussion between the Commonwealth and Smith & Wesson, while the company considered location options for its rifle manufacturing. James Debney, President of Smith & Wesson Firearms, said, “Although several states and cities have approached us to entice expansion into their locations, Massachusetts and the Patrick-Murray Administration, Secretary Bialecki and his office, and Springfield Mayor Sarno and his staff, collaborated on the project to make our choice clear. These administrations are highly collaborative and worked closely with us on incentive programs to structure an agreement that demonstrates the commitment of both the Commonwealth and the City to not only Smith & Wesson, but to our employees, the local community, and to manufacturing in Massachusetts.”

Given that Governor Deval Patrick is very anti-gun, it goes to show that jobs trump liberal policies in a recession. I’m surprised we haven’t heard from the Brady Campaign moaning about this being a waste of taxpayer monies.