GOAL Asks MA Attorney General to Investigate Licensing Delays

GOAL has formally requested that the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office conduct an investigation into the firearm licensing delays throughout the Commonwealth.

For several months the GOAL office has been deluged with complaints from members all over the state about lengthy delays in applying for or renewing their firearm license.

GOAL has tried to find out what the actual problems are in order to resolve the issue. The problem is that in every instance there seems to be a different reason given.

The only conclusion we can come to is that for whatever reason the system is broken and nobody knows why or how to fix it.

Rather than GOAL spending more time chasing down the problems of an inherently bad system, it is time for the state to start fixing the problems it started in the first place.

Below is a copy of the letter that has been sent to the AG’s office.

September 4, 2012

Attorney General Martha Coakley
One Ashburton Place, 20th Floor
Boston, MA 02108

RE: Massachusetts Firearm Licensing System

Dear Attorney General Coakley,

I am writing to you today to request that your office conduct an investigation into the lengthy delays within the Massachusetts firearm licensing system. Over the past several months Gun Owners' Action League (GOAL) has been repeatedly contacted by lawful gun owners from across the state that have become more than frustrated with the system. Other than the complaints of being unfairly denied or having their license restricted for no reason, the overwhelming complaint now has been the length of time it takes to process a license application.

According to Massachusetts General laws, specifically Section 129B and 131 of Chapter 140, there are very specific timelines that the licensing process is to be held to. Primarily any license or renewal of the same shall not take longer than forty days to process. The following are just a few examples of time complaints:

  • Tewksbury resident had to wait over 100 days;
  • Weymouth nearly 17 weeks;
  • Belchertown nearly 5 months;
  • Mendon, applied for an LTC in February and did not receive it until July;
  • Beverly, got fingerprinted and paid the fee in late June and still no response;
  • Fall River, took almost three months, 3 letters of reference and mandatory club membership;
  • Boston, after my initial mandatory interview in May was made to wait until August for a range test;
  • Fitchburg, it has been 11 weeks and the local department does not respond to inquiries about license status;
  • Tyngsboro, 73 days from application to license;
  • North Andover, ten weeks
  • Worcester, 6 months
  • Springfield, 3 months
  • Pittsfield, 119 days;
  • Wilbraham, 10 weeks;
  • Lowell, 4 months;
  • Waltham, 3 months;

And the list goes on.

Please note that citizens have asked us not release their names for fear of reprisal from licensing officials. Since Licenses to Carry can be revoked or restricted for little or no reason, citizens rightly feel that if they complain about the lack of service the local authority will revoke their license.

One of the major problems within the system is the complete lack of any means to track the progress of one’s application, new or renewal. Massachusetts citizens pay an exorbitant fee to exercise their Second Amendment civil rights, more than double of any other New England state, yet the licensing system in the Commonwealth is horribly inefficient and not user friendly. For example, if a citizen files an application to the local licensing authority as outlined in the system they often have to wait weeks if not months for an appointment to do so. If they are able to get an appointment, the fingerprints are taken and the fee is collected and it is at this point where many citizens are left waiting with no answers. When citizens inquire as to the progress of their application, many cities and towns ask them not to call anymore and that the authority will contact them when it is completed. If an applicant calls the state Firearms Record Bureau to check on the status, the state will not have any record of the application if it has not been forwarded to them. In many cases this situation will only further frustrate the applicant as the town will blame the state and the state will in turn say they have no record or they have already returned it to the town.

Perhaps the irony of this entire problem is that one would think that if a state is so concerned with the licensing and tracking of its citizens, that the state would have an efficient system in place to conduct that practice. Of course in the minds of many of our members is that the system is specifically made to be frustrating as to discourage them from exercising their civil rights.

Whatever may be the case, on behalf of GOAL I would like to request that your office conduct an investigation into the constant illegal delays and lack of efficiency of the system in general. I look forward to a resolution of the matter and if I can be of any assistance at all in the matter please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

James L. Wallace
Executive Director

Click here for a printable pdf of this letter.

 

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