Second Amendment Foundation Defeats Massachusetts Gun Ban For Legal Aliens

Yesterday, a Federal District Court Judge in Massachusetts ruled that the state’s ban on handguns for non-U.S. citizens (resident aliens) is unconstitutional. 

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

SAF-logoPrior to the Judge’s decision, Massachusetts’ law prohibited legal permanent residents – those who have ‘green cards’ – from obtaining a firearm identification card or a standard license to carry. 

If a legal alien wanted to obtain a firearm, he/she had to apply for a resident alien permit, which allowed a person to possess only a “low capacity” rifle or shotgun – no handgun.  

The plaintiffs in the case (Fletcher v. Haas), Christopher M. Fletcher and Eoin M. Pryal, are two law-abiding ‘Bay Staters’ who applied for “licenses to carry” for the primary purpose of self-defense within their homes, according to the lawsuit.

When the two were prohibited from purchasing handguns, they sought counsel from the Second Amendment Foundation, a non-profit group that seeks to promote a better understanding of firearms rights through education and legal action, which – in conjunction with Commonwealth Second Amendment, Inc – filed the lawsuit.

“One of the fundamental principles in this country is that people have rights,” said SAF Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb in a press release when the suit was filed. “Among those rights is the right of self-defense, especially in one’s own home.”

In addition to violating one’s fundamental rights, the ban underscored the state’s hypocrisy toward legal aliens.   

Gotleib “This lawsuit truly illustrates the contradictory and irrational nature of the Commonwealths’ firearms laws,” Comm2A President Brent Carlton told Fox News.

“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,” Carlton added.

Judge Woodcock agreed with their assessment.  In his 41-page ruling, he 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.”

Pleased with the ruling, Gottlieb said, “This is our fourth court victory this month in our campaign to win back firearms freedoms one lawsuit at a time.”

“It is one more step toward repairing decades of Second Amendment erosion,” he added.

Cover picture courtesy of AP

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