Four More Towns Found to Be Overcharging Applicants
On Monday, January 15, 2008 GOAL was made aware of four other towns that are overcharging applicants for their firearm licenses. To make matters worse, at least two of these towns are requiring a doctor's letter as part of the application process. As a result, GOAL has forwarded another request for an investigation to the Massachusetts Inspector General's Office.
"We continue to find evidence that the state has no control over nor any knowledge of what their licensing agents are doing," said Jim Wallace Executive Director of Gun Owners' Action League. "Even with the mountain of evidence that we have provided the Governor's office regarding these matters, it seems he is unwilling to step forward and do what is necessary to protect the civil rights of his constituents."
GOAL urges any of our members that are being improperly treated by a licensing agent to bring the information forward so that we may continue to address these incidents.
January 16, 2008
Gregory W. Sullivan, Inspector General
Office of the Inspector General
John W. McCormack State Office Building
One Ashburton Place, Room 1311
Boston, MA 02108
Recently, your office investigated a complaint made by Gun Owners' Action League regarding the city of Cambridge overcharging residents for firearms licenses. We are pleased that your office has ruled in favor of our members and that the overcharging has ceased. We are concerned, however, that your office closed the case prior to ensuring that the applicants have received the refunds.
As you may recall, GOAL also requested that your office to begin an investigation to see how far this type of abuse has spread. In order to help you in this investigation, our members have informed us that this practice of charging more than the $100 fee set in statute has indeed spread.
Information posted on the Internet shows that:
· The town of Andover is overcharging residents by $10 (see http://www.andoverps.net/police/forms/firearms_permit.html)
· The town of Methuen is overcharging residents by $10 (see http://www.methuenpolice.com/firearms_information.htm)
· The town of Peabody may be charging an extra $10 (see http://www.peabodypolice.org/support/armorer/)
· The town of North Andover may be charging an extra $10 (see http://www.napd.us/firearms.html)
We are also concerned that at least two of these towns are requiring an affidavit from a physician. “Letter from the applicant’s physician stating the applicant has no medical or psychological issues that would preclude him/her from owning, carrying, or legally using a firearm.” This is a clear violation of Chapter 140, section 131(g) “The application for such license shall be made in a standard form provided by the executive director of the Criminal Justice Information Services..”. Nothing in this section grants the authority to a licensing agent to demand anything not specifically required by the statutory standard licensing process. The affidavit would appear to be in violation of the intent of the Americans with Disabilities act, also.
We would also like to bring to your attention paragraph (k) of Chapter 140, Section 131. (k) Whoever knowingly issues a license in violation of this section 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 jail or house of correction, or by both such fine and imprisonment. It would appear from the evidence we continue to find that licenses are indeed being issued in clear violation of this section and that action to prosecute may be necessary.
We regret that other state agencies have been unwilling to enforce these laws and that GOAL is forced to turn to your department for assistance. Thank you for your attention to these matters and we look forward to your quick action.
James L. Wallace
On February 28, 2008 Gun Owners' Action League received a response regarding our requests for further investigations into illegal activities conducted by certain local firearm licensing agents (see below). This latest communication from the Inspector General's Office states that while there may be additional violations in other municipalities, this state agency considers the matter to have already been decided. Further, it is up to GOAL to use the agency's previous ruling on the City of Cambridge to enforce the law in other communities.
"First I would like to commend the Inspector's General's office for their professional and courteous manner in which they worked with GOAL on this matter," said Jim Wallace Executive Director of GOAL. "That being said however, I am astounded that a state agency has asked a non-profit corporation to take the responsibility of enforcing the laws. At this point I believe our next step is the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office."
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