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Court Upholds Conviction for Out-of-State Gun Owner Who Failed to Obtain Massachusetts License

Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Massachusetts gun possession case demonstrating how strictly the state’s gun laws are enforced. Ultimately, the court upheld the conviction of a man who was licensed to carry in New Hampshire but failed to obtain his Massachusetts license within 60 days of moving into the state.  According to the court’s opinion, the defendant lived with his girlfriend. One day, the defendant got into a fight with his girlfriend and became verbally abusive. The defendant packed his belongings, including a gun that he kept in the closet, and left the residence. The defendant told his girlfriend that he was going to spend the night in New Hampshire; however, the defendant ended up going to a bar to have a few drinks.

Later that evening, the defendant came back to his girlfriend’s apartment and, again, was verbally abusive when confronted by his girlfriend about being intoxicated. Ultimately, the defendant’s girlfriend fled the apartment out of fear for her safety. She called the police and informed them that the defendant was in her apartment and had a gun. She was not sure if it was in the apartment or the car.

Police arrived on the scene, and confirmed that the defendant owned a weapon. Police asked to hold onto the gun for safekeeping. The defendant was not arrested that evening; however, his girlfriend sought and was issued a protection order. Later, the defendant was charged with the unlicensed possession of a firearm. The defendant was licensed to carry a gun in New Hampshire; however, he had not obtained his Massachusetts license at the time of his arrest. A jury convicted the defendant, and he filed an appeal.

On appeal, the defendant challenged the constitutionality of the Massachusetts law requiring out-of-state gun owners to obtain a Massachusetts license within 60 days of moving into the state. The defendant also claimed that the statute did not apply to him because he was not a resident of Massachusetts, and was merely traveling “in or through the Commonwealth.”

The court rejected both of the defendant’s arguments, affirming the jury’s guilty verdict. The court explained that the defendant was able to obtain a license to carry within the statutory time frame and his failure to do so violated the plain language of the statute. The court also rejected the defendant’s challenge to the Massachusetts law requiring new residents to obtain a Massachusetts gun license.

Although it was not mentioned in its opinion, the defendant’s abusive actions towards his girlfriend certainly did not help portray him in a favorable light. That is to say, the case may have been viewed differently had there been no allegation of abuse. It is important to note that most Massachusetts criminal cases involve the exercise of discretion, either by the judge, jury, or both. Thus, it is important that, to the extent possible, a defendant be portrayed in a positive manner.

Have You Been Arrested for a Massachusetts Gun Crime?

If you have recently been arrested and charged with a Massachusetts gun crime, contact Attorney Patrick J. Murphy for assistance. Attorney Murphy is a dedicated Massachusetts criminal defense attorney who stands up for the rights of his clients, no matter what charges they face. Attorney Murphy handles serious felony cases, including Massachusetts gun crimes, sex crimes, and drug crimes. To learn more, call 617-367-0450 to schedule a free consultation today.