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The NRA Buying Congress?

The NRA Buying Congress?

Ever since the 2012 national election results were in there have been a slew of articles and commentary about the National Rifle Association “buying congress”. It actually began locally when the anti-civil rights group Stop Handgun Violence put up a billboard claiming the NRA had bought congress for $6.7 million dollars in the 2010 election. That statement was ludicrous for anyone who had a modicum of knowledge about national elections.

In the 2010 U.S. congressional elections a total of $3.6 billion was spent nationwide. My math may not be the best in the world, but I hardly think the NRA could “buy” congress for far less than one percent of the total spent to elect congress.

During the 2012 national elections, the NRA spent a reported total of $17 million dollars between the congressional and presidential elections. One would think they had opened up the gold vaults in old Fort Knox. Articles, commentaries, etc. around the country began talking about how TOO powerful the NRA had become. I actually had one woman at a forum tell me that no private organization in this country should ever be able to amass such power over the democratic system. Some claimed the “gun lobby” intentionally uses its massive wealth to stifle and bypass the American system of government. It is simply amazing what people can be led to believe.

In several articles regarding the supposed enormous spending by the gun lobby there was a website mentioned called www.opensecrets.com. Being curious I thought I would check out what resources the anti-civil rights attackers were using. According to this website approximately $6.3 billion dollars were spent to elect the President and congress in the 2012 elections. Since people were trying to tell us that the NRA had become far too powerful after spending $17 million in 2012, I thought I would see what groups might have topped that.

  • SEIU (Service Employees International Union): $68,290,443
  • Emily’s List: $44,461,800
  • AFL-CIO: $22,611,402
  • MoveOn.org: $21,642,681
  • Labor/Union Organizations in total: $60,510,465
  • The pharmaceutical industry as a whole spent $69.6 million on lobbying in the first quarter Electrical utilities spent $43.3 million

If the sentiments about overly powerful organizations are sincere, would these entities be disbanded as well?

New Attack Strategies on Our Civil Rights

New Attack Strategies on Our Civil Rights

Editorial by GOAL Executive Director Jim Wallace

5/17/2013

Over the last several months one can imagine how many interviews that GOAL has taken part in. They number in the hundreds. In past years dealing with the media had not been a pleasant experience. The so-called information it provided to the general public was at best slanted and at worst intentionally wrong. Realizing that many GOAL members may not agree, the media in our Commonwealth has actually gotten better to deal with regarding our issue. The national media … not so much.

Being frustrated with the general media no longer buying into the empty sound bites from our opponents, the anti-civil rights crowd has launched a new offensive. This latest manner in spreading their one sided information is the “forum”. When these first started to pop up around the Commonwealth GOAL was invited to present our side. The problem even when we were invited is that we were normally one voice in a group of four or five, the rest being very much in favor of more restrictions. After only a few of these forums GOAL was no longer even invited and the anti-civil rights shills were free to say anything they wanted without the slightest challenge.

This lack of a balance has allowed our opposition to present arguments and labels that when unchallenged allow the uneducated audience to believe what is said is true. For example at several forums we gun owners and specifically the NRA have been referred to as racists that intentionally flood the inner city streets with guns in order to kill minorities. They have stated that second amendment organizations are simply fronts for the firearms industry that only care about profits. When it came to the subject of providing uniformed security officers in schools, one forum panel member actually said this was only a cover to allow the NRA to get armed vigilantes in schools.

Once again, our opposition has found a new way to spread their unchallenged twisted views on our fight to protect our second amendment civil rights. GOAL members can help by looking for announcements about these forums. If you find out about one coming up, please notify GOAL. We will then in turn alert our members and ask them to attend. While at the forums our members should remain professional and polite. Getting angry and belligerent is exactly what they want the public to see. If there is an ability to ask or submit questions we encourage our members to do so. Talking to the audience members before and after is also a good way to make sure that facts get out and ridiculous statements are challenged. Provide the audience with GOAL handouts on different subject matters. Being polite and providing honest accurate information will win the day.

Senator Brewer, S.661, and "Stand Your Ground"

Common Defense Bill
It is certainly not news to anyone that GOAL’s Common Defense bill, S.661, has come under attack since the Martin/Zimmerman incident was hyped up and turned into a media frenzy. 

Our good friend Senator Stephen Brewer who has been the sponsor of this legislation for 3 consecutive sessions got caught up in this mess. The media and those who oppose our right to self defense have unfairly attacked S.661 and the Senator for sponsoring it. It always amazes me when our opposition takes advantage of situations like the one in Florida to equate a piece of legislation that would recognize our natural right of self defense to street gun violence.  GOAL members owe the good Senator a debt of gratitude for standing his ground and supporting our civil rights.

As for the Martin/Zimmerman incident itself, there are several very important things we have learned thus far. The first is that no one I have spoken to can attest to what exactly happened between the two men. All we know for sure is one person is dead and the other has had his life destroyed and is facing prosecution.

One thing we do know; the media fabricated and creatively edited the evidence it presented to the general public. Their bias and greed for attention caused a national uproar as the edited 911 tapes it presented were doctored to make it appear that Zimmerman was a racist out looking for trouble. The grossly irresponsible manner in which the media acted actually placed more people in danger as protests broke and threats against Zimmerman’s life came from radical groups seeking phony “justice”. If we, the citizen’s, ever needed any proof that the general media is no longer worthy of our trust we certainly have it now.

Ironically, if this case has proven one thing, it's that it actually proves that we need the Common Defense bill more than ever. We don’t know if Zimmerman is guilty or not, but as it relates to this type of incident GOAL’s bill only seeks to establish protections for lawful citizens who find themselves in a life or death self defense situation.

Unfortunately, one of the things lawful gun owners need protection from most of all is a biased persecution style media. Short of taking away the freedom of the press, I don’t think there is any legislation that is going to fix that.

Thank you again Senator Brewer, you are a good person trying to protect our civil rights.

License Renewal Problems - Range Access

License Renewal Problems

The GOAL office has received a lot of communication from members and gun owners in general concerning their recent inability to renew their LTC or FID. Many of these problems are due to the fact that the government has spent a lot of resources computerizing old paper court records. These old records that have languished in the dingy basements of court houses around the state are now available at a key stroke. With this available information, the state is now disqualifying individuals who may have renewed two or three times since the Gun Control Act of 1998. In many instances the applicants claim they did not even remember the incidents until they were denied the renewal.

There have been inquiries as to whether these circumstances should provide for some type of grandfathering. Their logic being that the citizens in question have already renewed several times and have had no problems then they should have demonstrated that they are suitable to maintain their rights. Unfortunately, for Massachusetts gun owners, logic rarely enters into the discussion of state gun law. Potential court challenges aside, as far as the state is concerned a disqualifier is currently a disqualifier no matter when it is found.

There is another problem that is starting to arise out of this issue and that is a potential false statement on the application. On the official Massachusetts application for a new or renewed LTC or FID question number ten asks:

Have you ever appeared in any court as a defendant for any criminal offense (excluding non-criminal traffic offenses)?

This question, perhaps more than any other has tripped up applicants, especially in non-friendly communities who look for any reason to strip you of your rights. There are several points here to deal with.

The first is the term that presents a problem is “appeared in any court as a defendant.”  Many people read that quickly and assume that it refers to convictions. It does not. Still other people get confused about the circumstances thinking it meant a trial. Most misdemeanors throughout modern history are handled via a plea and sentencing without a trial. Because some applicants don’t consider that to be a “defendant in court” they don’t answer the question correctly. In any case, many people unintentionally provide an incorrect or “false” answer to question ten.

Another problem with this question is that applicants who have successfully renewed since 1998 feel no reason to disclose any records that might be pertinent. Many claim they simply forgot about pleading out when they were a teenager. Sadly, the state is not being forgiving when it comes to these old records and memory lapses.

So where do problems with the infamous question ten bring us? In both the LTC laws and the FID card laws there are rather severe penalties for answering the question incorrectly.

Chapter 140, Section 129B(8) Any person who knowingly files an application containing false information shall be punished by a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 or by imprisonment for not less than six months nor more than two years in a house of correction, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Chapter 140, Section 131(h) Any person who knowingly files an application containing false information shall be punished by a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 or by imprisonment for not less than six months nor more than two years in a house of correction, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

While GOAL has not heard of any citizens being fined or jailed for question ten problems, we have heard of many cases where they have had their LTC or FID denied as a result. The latter part is most concerning since neither of the penalties outlined in sections 129B or 131 rise to the level of a crime punishable by more than two years (statutory disqualifier). Of course with the LTC there is always the infamous “suitability” trump card that can be played by unfriendly licensing officials. The FID card is another story all together since the “suitability” in that matter does not exist.

The only other explanation could be a very perverse use of a statutory disqualifier clause that exists in both sections 129B and 131.

129B(1)(i)(d) a violation of any law regulating the use, possession, ownership, transfer, purchase, sale, lease, rental, receipt or transportation of weapons or ammunition for which a term of imprisonment may be imposed

131(d)(i)(d) a violation of any law regulating the use, possession, ownership, transfer, purchase, sale, lease, rental, receipt or transportation of weapons or ammunition for which a term of imprisonment may be imposed

It would be a very long stretch to have a court rule that a poor answer on question ten could be construed as falling into one of these categories. Although, these are the same courts that have ruled that Heller and MacDonald don’t apply to Massachusetts law so don’t count on it.

GOAL will be studying this issue closely over the next few months. If any of our members are being disqualified for issues surrounding question ten, please forward us the information. We certainly don’t support the current gun laws in the Commonwealth and they are only made worse when they are being applied incorrectly.

Range Accessibility

Recently it was my honor to be appointed to two committees at the national level of the NRA. One of those is the committee on Shooters with Disabilities. The conversations at the last two meetings of the committee have focused on range and target access by persons with disabilities. Normally we think of access assistance to the club house or other structure or what we call “ground to facility”. These talks have been about making it easier to access the range and targets or “ground to target”.

While there was certainly a lot of discussion about disabled veterans as a result of the wars, there is also a lot of discussion about the aging shooting community. Wheelchair access to the facility and ranges is very important, but has your club thought about those who have bad knees, hips or balance problems. Does the path to the range consist of uneven stones? Do you have plenty of benches for people to rest and are they in the shade for the summer? Can someone who walks with a cane easily access the target stands? So there is a lot to think about not only for wheelchair bound folks, but also a host of people with a wide range of physical issues.

The committee is looking to put together some suggestions for clubs and ranges to think about when looking at their ranges. It has not yet been determined whether it will be included in the range source information or what the best way to distribute upcoming materials will be. In the meantime it is something to start thinking about at your local club. Making it easier for people to access your ranges will certainly only benefit the clubs. More info to follow.

Minor Drug Violations

Minor Drug Violations

The GOAL office has begun to receive requests for information regarding past minor drug violations for persons applying for their License to Carry (LTC). Theses inquiries are a result of the law passed in 2008, Chapter 387 of the Acts of 2008 An Act Establishing a Sensible State Marijuana Policy.

Basically, this law made possession of one ounce or less of marijuana a civil offense rather than a criminal offense and punishable by a one hundred dollar fine. The most common question we receive is will this new law downgrading the offense help those who have been disqualified for such past offenses. The answer is, we simply don’t know yet.

The problem with determining an answer is that there are now two conflicting laws. The first is of course the law regarding the LTC, Chapter 140, Section 131. Within that section is a list of permanent disqualifiers among them is: “a violation of any law regulating the use, possession or sale of controlled substances as defined in section 1 of chapter 94C” This particular disqualifier is not even reviewable by the Firearm Licensing Review Board established in GOAL’s 2004 reform bill. The key phrase in the Section is “a violation of any law” not just criminal law, but here is where it gets interesting.

Keep in mind that the gun law was established in 1998. Ten years later the state passes the marijuana policy law. In this new law it specifically states, several times, that offenders shall not be subject to any other sanctions or disqualifications other than the fine. (See the underlined below.) The law even goes so far as to prohibit listing such offenses in the Criminal Offender Record Information system.

So the question is which law prevails? We have a 1998 law that states any violation is a disqualifier and we now have a 2008 law that states this particular offense cannot be used for disqualification of any kind. There are two schools of legal thought here.

The first is that in some cases courts will side with the more specific law.

The second is that courts will go with the most recent law as it more closely represents the latest will of the people.

Unfortunately, we may have to wait for a court case to decide the matter as we can no longer rely on the state administration to accurately advise us on the law. Sadly, we have not had much luck in the State’s highest court understanding the current gun laws either.

As a side note, we do have great concerns on how this new law may affect the next generation of gun owners. If indeed the disqualifier in Section 131 eventually prevails and is maintained, it could cause serious issues down the road. With the decriminalizing of the minor possession, young people may not take it as a serious offense and later on realize that their civil right to keep and bear arms has been taken away. Regardless of the arguments for or against decriminalizing, this is yet another mess caused by the Massachusetts gun laws that needs to fixed before more harm is done.

Chapter 94C, Section 32L. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, possession of one ounce or less of marihuana shall only be a civil offense, subjecting an offender who is eighteen years of age or older to a civil penalty of one hundred dollars and forfeiture of the marihuana, but not to any other form of criminal or civil punishment or disqualification. An offender under the age of eighteen shall be subject to the same forfeiture and civil penalty provisions, provided he or she completes a drug awareness program which meets the criteria set forth in Section 32M of this Chapter. The parents or legal guardian of any offender under the age of eighteen shall be notified in accordance with Section 32N of this Chapter of the offense and the availability of a drug awareness program and community service option. If an offender under the age of eighteen fails within one year of the offense to complete both a drug awareness program and the required community service, the civil penalty may be increased pursuant to Section 32N of this Chapter to one thousand dollars and the offender and his or her parents shall be jointly and severally liable to pay that amount.
Except as specifically provided in ″An Act Establishing A Sensible State Marihuana Policy,″ neither the Commonwealth nor any of its political subdivisions or their respective agencies, authorities or instrumentalities may impose any form of penalty, sanction or disqualification on an offender for possessing an ounce or less of marihuana. By way of illustration rather than limitation, possession of one ounce or less of marihuana shall not provide a basis to deny an offender student financial aid, public housing or any form of public financial assistance including unemployment benefits, to deny the right to operate a motor vehicle or to disqualify an offender from serving as a foster parent or adoptive parent. Information concerning the offense of possession of one ounce or less of marihuana shall not be deemed ″criminal offender record information,″ ″evaluative information,″ or ″intelligence information″ as those terms are defined in Section 167 of Chapter 6 of the General Laws and shall not be recorded in the Criminal Offender Record Information system.
As used herein, ″possession of one ounce or less of marihuana″ includes possession of one ounce or less of marihuana or tetrahydrocannabinol and having cannabinoids or cannibinoid metabolites in the urine, blood, saliva, sweat, hair, fingernails, toe nails or other tissue or fluid of the human body. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to repeal or modify existing laws, ordinances or bylaws, regulations, personnel practices or policies concerning the operation of motor vehicles or other actions taken while under the influence of marihuana or tetrahydrocannabinol, laws concerning the unlawful possession of prescription forms of marihuana or tetrahydrocannabinol such as Marinol, possession of more than one ounce of marihuana or tetrahydrocannabinol, or selling, manufacturing or trafficking in marihuana or tetrahydrocannabinol. Nothing contained herein shall prohibit a political subdivision of the Commonwealth from enacting ordinances or bylaws regulating or prohibiting the consumption of marihuana or tetrahydrocannabinol in public places and providing for additional penalties for the public use of marihuana or tetrahydrocannabinol.


Buyer Beware

Buyer Beware

Every so often I include in my column a reminder to our members concerning the “Brook Trout” license plate. Quite often I run into people who proudly display the specialty plate on their car or truck. When approached they always tell me that supporting Fish and Wildlife programs is something they are happy to do. Unfortunately, I have to inform them that the money they paid for the special plate does not and never has gone to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Most people always remark back that the plate has the FW right on it. Well, it certainly does, but that is a little bit of a misrepresentation or false advertising if you will.

Twenty-eight dollars of the plate fee actually goes to something called the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET). The remaining twelve dollars goes to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. The MET website (www.mass.gov/eea/met) describes itself as follows:

Over 20 years ago, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was sued by the federal government for violation of the Clean Water Act and pollution of Boston Harbor. State officials reflected on the process and began searching for ways to make this difficult period in Massachusetts environmental history a positive learning experience. In 1988 the federal lawsuit for violating the Clean Water Act in Boston Harbor was settled and the State Legislature established the Massachusetts Environmental Trust through Chapter 236, Section 7 of the Acts of 1988. The Trust was intially funded with $2 million dollars by the Legislature. The Trust is governed by a Board of Trustees appointed by the Secretary for Energy and Environmental Affairs.

The Trust originally focused on protecting the Massachusetts coastal zone and marine waters, but in the interim increased its geographic scope to include the water resources of the entire Commonwealth. In time, funds generated from violations of environmental law were put to use in remediation, outreach and environmental education efforts.


I would urge people who have one of these plates or are thinking about getting one to visit the MET website and educate themselves on just what they are supporting. For sure some of the grants may be things you support, just know you are not supporting the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.


Government Turns on Itself

Government Turns on Itself

By James Wallace / Executive Director Gun Owners' Action League 

7/13/11

New Interpretations and Possible Legislation Could Imprison Law Enforcement Officers for Decades

A lot has been happening lately in the gun world as legislation, regulation and government agency “advisories” have been creating quite a mess. Just recently I was going over some of the legislation that has been filed to increase penalties for firearm offenses. One in particular is S.1207 “An Act Increasing the Penalties for Illegal Possession of Firearms" filed by Senator Eileen Donoghue. This bill drastically increases a host of penalties for gun related crimes and creates mandatory sentencing for the same. While going over this legislation I took into account the so-called “Assault Weapon Law” advisory letter from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPS). Read more about the letter at: www.goal.org/newspages/eops_error_letter_to_ffl.html As GOAL members know all too well, most of the unsigned and undated letter was factually incorrect and did not properly represent the assault weapons law as it stands today.

Of special concern to many law enforcement officers was the interpretation from EOPS about the exemptions in the Assault Weapons law Chapter 140, Section 131M. The advisory letter specifically addressed the following exemption: “The provisions of this section shall not apply to: (i) the possession by a law enforcement officer for purposes of law enforcement;”

In regards to this exemption the letter from EOPS states: “This exception allows police officer to possess assault weapons and large capacity feeding devices while in the performance of their official duties. This exception does not allow police officers to possess an assault weapon or large capacity feeding devices for their own personal use, or for both on-duty and off-duty use.

There is no exception allowing the sale or transfer of an assault weapon or large capacity feeding device to any person, including police officers.”

Setting aside the fact that this is an interpretation not backed by court precedent, let’s take a look at a possible scenario should the statements in the EOPS advisory letter stand and S.1207 pass into law.

Scenario for discussion is as follows. Officer Jones works for a small rural town in Massachusetts where their officers are required to purchase their own firearms. For the sake of this discussion Jones decides he needs a “service rifle” during official duties should he have to respond to a certain type of incident. In going to the local licensed firearm retailer that he normally uses, the officer purchases an AR-15 rifle with three 30 round magazines. Each of these items are “post ban” (September 13, 1994). In this case, both the retailer and the officer fully believe they are acting within the law since there is an exemption in Section 131M specifically for law enforcement.

Some years have passed since the officer purchased the rifle and magazines and he has used them on and off the job. Any good shooter knows that practice gets you familiar with your particular firearm should you need to use it. Knowing this, as any officer does, he has taken the rifle to the range countless times and even used it in local high power matches. According to the EOPS advisory letter and the possibility that S.1207 would become law, Officer Jones is facing many years in prison.

  • Violation of Chapter 140 Section 131M for the Assault Weapon (AR-15 Post Ban) = up to 20 years in prison.
  • Violation of Chapter 140 Section 131M for each (3) large capacity feeding devices = up to 20 years in prison for each magazine totaling 60 years.
  • Because S.1207 would specifically amend Chapter 269, Section 10 to include violations of 131M thus invoking Section 10(d) for an additional 20 years and Section 10(h)(1) for another 5 years.

According to my count that is 105 years in prison for a law enforcement officer who thought he was acting within the law only to find out he wasn’t. Of course that part of the scenario would be no surprise considering the confusion surrounding Massachusetts gun law. Of course there is some good news for Officer Jones. If S.1207 does not pass into law and only the opinions in the EOPS letter stand the test of law, he might only be facing 40 years in prison.

In hind sight I suppose it is disappointing that so many police chiefs around the Commonwealth have fought against reforming the gun laws and have now placed their own officers in serious jeopardy. The Massachusetts Gun Control Act of 1998 took just a little over a decade to begin to turn on the very people the government hires to enforce the law itself. We here in Massachusetts have witnessed a full circle in the reversal of freedom to the point where government is now turning on itself.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Issues Contorted Ruling in Powell Case

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Issues Contorted Ruling in Powell Case

In late April of 2011 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (MassSJC) handed down its decision in Commonwealth v. Powell. This was a case of an 18 year citizen in possession of a handgun (firearm) without a Firearms Identification Card or a License to Carry. Gun Owners’ Action League (GOAL) filed an Amicus brief in the case in an attempt to point out the unconstitutional restrictions in Massachusetts law that prevents an adult aged 18 – 20 from possessing a handgun. In what is continuing to be a situation where the Commonwealth’s highest court either does not understand the law and/or is simply unwilling to apply United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decisions it ruled the following:

1.     The Mass SJC said in Powell that neither Heller nor McDonald made it clear that the Second Amendment was an absolute individual right.  Rather, the Mass SJC has ruled that Second Amendment rights are limited to only possessing firearms in the home for the SOLE purpose of self defense.  According to the Mass SJC, Heller and McDonald held only that the Second Amendment is only infringed where there is a complete ban on handgun possession in the home, or where a statute prohibits having a fully operational handgun in the home.

2.   The Mass SJC maintains that the Massachusetts gun laws to not represent an absolute prohibition for an 18 – 20 year to possess a handgun. The court contends that such a person can possess a handgun in the home with an FID Card.

Occasionally when you are in the business of following court decisions, you have to read one that simply makes your head hurt. The Powell decision is one of them. Anyone who knows Massachusetts gun law and has researched both of the recent SCOTUS decisions (Heller and McDonald) can only describe this decision as chaotic at best, as the Mass SJC decision contains arguments full of conjecture regarding the Massachusetts firearms statutes.

In one paragraph where the Mass SJC discusses the McDonald decision, the Court seems to insinuate that because the Justices in the plurality (Justices that joined the majority decision that is considered the legally binding holding of SCOTUS) could not agree on the mechanism for how the Second Amendment is incorporated through the Bill of Rights to apply to the States, that this difference between the Justices somehow adds “significance” to the SCOTUS statements regarding whether the rights under the Second Amendment were unlimited. Nevermind the fact that the plurality were in TOTAL agreement that the Second Amendment DOES fully apply to the States.

Take a look at the Mass SJC’s rationale:

The [US Supreme] Court concluded that the right "applies equally to the Federal Government and the States." Id. at 3050. The Court, however, was unable to agree on how the Second Amendment right applies to the States. Justice Alito, writing the plurality opinion concluded that the Second Amendment right is incorporated to the States through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. In contrast, although he agreed that the Second Amendment is "fully applicable to the States," Justice Thomas concluded that the right "is a privilege of American citizenship that applies to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment's Privileges or Immunities Clause." Id. at 3058-3059 (Thomas, J., concurring in part and concurring in the judgment). Of significance, the plurality opinion did not disturb the conclusion in Heller that a citizen's rights under the Second Amendment are limited.

This paragraph in the Powell decision is clear evidence that the Mass SJC is intentionally including irrelevant “disagreements” within the McDonald plurality in an attempt to cast suspicion on SCOTUS’s holding in McDonald.  What is clear from McDonald is that all of the Justices that joined in the plurality opinion, drafted by Justice Alito, agreed on bedrock issues:  1) US Citizens have a pre-existing (prior to the drafting of the Constitution and Bill of Rights), fundamental right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment, and 2) The fundamental Second Amendment rights apply equally to the US Government and all of the States in the Nation. How the various Justices got to the end result is frankly irrelevant; they concluded that the Second Amendment of the US Constitution applies to the States, period. 

So, it begs the question: why mention the “disagreement” on the mechanism of applying the fundamental Second Amendment rights to the States?  Why mention the mechanism at all if the outcome (Second Amendment applies to all States) is the same?  The answer:  because it makes it seem like the plurality opinion and central holding in McDonald is somewhat undecided or up for debate, when in actuality it is clear and settled. 

The second part of the Powell decision contends: Powell paragraph c. – General Laws c. 269, § 10 (h ) (1), makes it an offense to own or to possess a firearm, see note 3, supra, in one's home or place of business without obtaining an FID card pursuant to G.L. c. 140, § 129C.

It further states:

G.L. c. 140, § 129B (1). An FID card allows the holder to own or possess a firearm within the holder's residence or place of business, but not to carry it to or in any other place.

In this part of the decision the court continues to make the same mistakes it made in the Runyan decision.

First, with respect to c. 269, § 10 (h ) (1) it simply doesn’t say that. It actually states: Whoever owns, possesses or transfers a firearm, rifle, shotgun or ammunition without complying with the provisions of section 129C of chapter 140 shall be punished…

This may be a small difference, but it is certainly a meaningful one.  The exclusion from punishment for possession in the home is not in turn a license to buy a handgun, transport it to the range for practice, or to transport it to a gunsmith for repairs or anyplace else. Also, FID Cards are not “obtained” through Section 129C, they are obtained through Section 129B.

Section 129C also states very clearly: “The possession of a firearm identification card issued under section one hundred and twenty-nine B shall not entitle any person to carry a firearm in violation of section ten of chapter two hundred and sixty-nine and…”

Next, Section 129B (1) does not allow “the holder to own or possess a firearm within the holder's residence or place of business…” Actually Section 129B (6) specifically prohibits such possession unless the holder of said card is at a licensed club and accompanied by a holder of a License to Carry, a point which was specifically made to the Mass SJC in GOAL’s Amicus brief- in the Powell case:

140, 129B (6) A firearm identification card shall not entitle a holder thereof to possess: (i) a large capacity firearm or large capacity feeding device therefor, except under a Class A license issued to a shooting club as provided under section 131 or under the direct supervision of a holder of a Class A license issued to an individual under section 131 at an incorporated shooting club or licensed shooting range; or (ii) a non-large capacity firearm or large capacity rifle or shotgun or large capacity feeding device therefor, except under a Class A license issued to a shooting club as provided under section 131 or under the direct supervision of a holder of a Class A or Class B license issued to an individual under section 131 at an incorporated shooting club or licensed shooting range.

Another questionable part of the Mass SJC’s decision is their use of case precedent to support its decision and reasoning. In backing up their contention that an FID Card allows for the possession of a handgun in home they cite to three cases. These cases, Commonwealth v. Belding, 42 Mass.App.Ct. 435, 436-437 (1997), Commonwealth v. Walker, 17 Mass.App.Ct. 182, 185 (1983), and Commonwealth v. Seay, 376 Mass. 735 (1978) were all decided prior to the 1998 Gun Control Act. That Act changed and re-wrote the gun laws, including by adding the language in 140, Section 129B (6) cited above, that should have been referenced by the Mass SJC in the Powell decision.

Once again, Massachusetts gun owners are left with a decision of our highest state court that has left us with more questions than answers. While some of us fully expected the Mass SJC to spin the Heller and McDonald decisions, few people could have foreseen how unwilling the Court would be to properly and accurately apply existing state law. It appears that in an effort to dilute and limit the holdings of the highest Court in the United States, the Mass SJC has resorted to either ignoring or intentionally misinterpreting the written (as onerous and offensive as they may be) Massachusetts statues relating to firearm licensing, purchasing, and possession. 

As we predicted though, the fight for civil rights continues and GOAL will be on the frontline of that fight.

Voting For Someone

Voting For Someone

April 12, 2011

For quite some time I have heard nothing but complaints from voters all over the nation concerning the candidates on any given ballot. While there are certainly some politicians or candidates on the local level that voters get excited about supporting, the same cannot always be said for the higher offices.

Recently I asked a few people in casual conversation if they had ever voted FOR someone. The immediate response from most was – “Of course I have, I voted.” I clarified my question by asking them who was it that you actually voted FOR, not voted for candidate X because you were actually voting against the other candidate. Understanding my question better, the flood gates of complaints opened up.

Most everyone complained that they were sick of voting for the “lesser of two evils.” Still others voiced their frustration that there have not been any recent candidates that actually stood for their ideals. Far too many candidates in any party run to the center for election and then take off in different tangents after they are elected.

One of the fairly new issues with the Presidential elections is the invasion of the other party’s primary. In some states like Massachusetts voters have the right to vote in either party’s primary. In recent years there has been a strategy of voting in the opposition’s primary in an attempt to knock out their top candidate. For instance, in the last Presidential primary a host of voters invaded the Democrat primary in an attempt to unseat Hillary Clinton. For better or worse, the strategy actually worked. One of the major problems with the success of that strategy is that if it continues to work, it could lead to the deterioration of the American election process.

Many voters will admit that they only voted for someone to actually vote against the other candidate, the future of elections and who represents us could be drastically changed if that fine line is crossed. All one needs to do is look at the current sitting President to understand the dangers of completely flipping a system of voting. The result in the last election gave us a fringe Presidential candidate that actually won.

There is certainly a fringe sector of society that has been drooling over such an opportunity and it has proven very harmful to our nation. I can even remember the night of the election when national news anchors remarked that this is the first time they could recall a candidate winning that was such an unknown entity. Of course had these people paid any attention to the facts that were so obviously out there they might have learned something.

In any case, the last Presidential election was the first perfect storm of the new election strategy. One could argue, I suppose, that this new strategy kept a particular enemy out of office. The problem still remains that the strategy resulted in an enemy that had no history that would have provided the experience necessary to run a country. Policies and politics aside, if we continue on a path that puts incredibly inexperienced and potentially incompetent people in the most powerful position in the world we are all in serious trouble regardless of our political leanings.

What this nation needs is true leaders to once again be supported for high office. It has been bad enough that we had become a nation of voters yearning for someone vote FOR. That frustration will morph us onto a path of destruction if we are not careful. The election of the highest office in our nation should be about electing the best of the best, instead we are speeding towards a system that elects the worst of the worst. Prior to the next Presidential election let’s work towards finding candidates we want to vote FOR and set this country back on the track to greatness once again.

Laws, Regulations and Policies Don’t Make Us Bulletproof

Laws, Regulations and Policies Don’t Make Us Bulletproof

One of the most profound arguments in the Second Amendment debate that our opponents never seem to get is that no law will ever make us bulletproof. I suppose this case could be true for those who are not necessarily involved in the struggle directly, but support government interventions via other means. These could be in the form of restraining orders and the dreaded “Zero Tolerance” policies. Neither of which have ever saved a life, in fact it can be successfully argued that they have cost lives.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that more laws, regulations and policies (LRPs) won’t make us safer there is that sector of society that wants to put their collective heads in the sand and ignore the truth. No other state in the nation could be more proof of that than Massachusetts. In 1998, the legislature passed what has turned out to be the worst in the nation gun laws. Since then, the “get tough on guns” LRPs have resulted in a disastrous outcome. All one has to do is review the evidence at www.massgunlawreform.com/evidence.html and witness the drastic increase in violent crimes committed with guns in the last decade.

To a great extent, restraining orders and zero tolerance policies aren’t having a much better track record. While we can argue that restraining orders serve their purpose to an extent, in severe cases they do nothing to actually protect the potential victim. Since law enforcement can only get involved if a protection order is violated it is often too late and the only thing left to do is the paperwork.

The point is that no official government document is going to stop a bullet, knife, baseball bat or anything else for that matter. If there is truly a need for someone to get a protection order then shouldn’t that be only the first step? People who are in fear of their safety, and perhaps their lives, should not be relying on a piece of paper. Both the government and the petitioner are being irresponsible if they believe otherwise.

The same is equally true of these so-called zero tolerance policies most commonly found in schools and many work places. The one alarming fact with these policies is that if a killer targets you at one of these places, you have a near zero chance of surviving.

The common theme here is that LRPs may make some feel good or safe, but what happens when they eventually fail to stop an attack? The sad answer is normally one or more victims with grieving families looking for answers.

It is unfortunate that in our modern society here in Massachusetts, criminals, psychopaths, etc. can virtually count on a potential victim or even a group of victims to not fight back. People have become so reliant on government that far too many have completely surrendered their own responsibility.

Ultimately, our lives and safety are ours to defend or lose. Any kind of so-called preventive or responsive measures offered by our government should only be considered complimentary to our own ability or at least efforts to defend ourselves. By the way, that includes escaping the situation. The logic has always escaped me when, for instance, a school policy is to hide under a desk in case of attack when there is a perfectly good first floor window to escape out of. If your life depends on escaping then do it, but if your life depends on you or a group to fight back in order to survive than people need to start doing that too.

Sadly, adults and most importantly children through LRPs are being discouraged from doing what used to come naturally. Even our own Massachusetts Attorney General has been in the media telling the public that the state does not encourage self help! What sort of message does that send to the public? Perhaps more importantly, what message has that attitude sent to the criminal element? Unfortunately, we already have witnessed the answer to the latter.

It is clear we have a lot of work to do here in the Commonwealth in reforming the existing LRPs, but I am afraid that is only going to part of the job. The other part might even be more difficult to change and that is the social attitude towards defending ourselves. Somehow we must gather together and re-teach modern society that self defense and the defense of others is not violence - it is rather the means to stop violence.

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Recent Posts

  1. The NRA Buying Congress?
    Friday, May 31, 2013
  2. New Attack Strategies on Our Civil Rights
    Friday, May 17, 2013
  3. Senator Brewer, S.661, and "Stand Your Ground"
    Friday, April 20, 2012
  4. License Renewal Problems - Range Access
    Friday, January 13, 2012
  5. Minor Drug Violations
    Friday, August 12, 2011
  6. Buyer Beware
    Friday, July 22, 2011
  7. Government Turns on Itself
    Wednesday, July 13, 2011
  8. Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Issues Contorted Ruling in Powell Case
    Wednesday, May 11, 2011
  9. Voting For Someone
    Wednesday, April 20, 2011
  10. Laws, Regulations and Policies Don’t Make Us Bulletproof
    Monday, March 28, 2011

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