Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Boston gun licensing discriminates against disabled

A Boston resident applying for a Class A License to Carry Firearms (LTC-A) faces a big commitment of time and money.  But there's one obstacle that at worst discourages some law-abiding, qualified people like my wife from even trying, and at best makes them beg the state for special favors. 

Boston is the only licensing authority in the Commonwealth that requires every new applicant to pass a qualification course, which they hold at the Moon Island police range in the middle of Boston Harbor.  Worse yet, anyone wanting to renew the LTC every six years must pass the test again before it expires. 

The course of fire is twelve rounds one-handed, double action from seven yards onto a 12x16" target with 10/9/8 scoring rings. This is followed by eighteen rounds freestyle, single or double action from fifteen yards.  A passing score is 210 out of 300. 

Passing the test isn't especially difficult - that is, if you're already proficient with the old, heavy, double action Ruger Service Six .357 Magnum revolver you're prohibited from owning.  To have a decent chance of passing, a new shooter needs at least five lessons, each lesson costing $20 for instruction and $32 for ammo. That's $260 to practice to qualify for your $100 license.  Did I mention you need to have also taken the $175 basic pistol course already?  And that they only offer the test at 7AM, so you should plan on taking the morning off from work?  

Beside the New York City-style financial burden placed on the new licensee, the range qualification is a particularly insidious barrier to the elderly and disabled.  These Ruger revolvers have a fifteen pound double action trigger, making it all but impossible for people with arthritis to use.  Most applicants delay taking the test until late spring, since the wind whipping off the Harbor waters can numb your hands quickly.  It's an outside range with no protection from the elements.

My wife was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis two years ago when she was twenty-eight years old.  After we got the initial flare up under control with drugs and three months of bed rest, her quality of life is just as great as it was before, but the joints of her hands are weak and frail.  She has zero chance of practicing for, and passing, the Moon Island test without excruciating pain.  No pass, no license. 

At some point after she has the baby this fall, I'm going to encourage her to try for it.  Maybe if we show up at the licensing counter with our attorney, it'll persuade them to waive the test for her.  I'm not optimistic.  More wealthy and powerful people than us have sued over this and lost in court. 

The Boston Police Department licensing division, under Mayor Menino's orders, actively discriminates against the elderly and disabled with this range test.  Their policy makes no exemption for anyone.  It is the reason my wife is unable to exercise her Second Amendment rights, and there are thousands of more people out there in the city, just like her. 

Massachusetts' licensing scheme is sometimes shall-issue, usually may-issue, occasionally no-issue. There is a list of dozens of dubious reasons that make you a prohibited person in the eyes of the politician who decides local gun rights. 

In Boston, you can add arthritis to that list. 


  1. I moved to Massachusetts from Maine in the fall of last year. I had been led to believe that I would have a problem bringing my firearms with me. As it turned out getting a permit was reasonably simple.

    Evidently you can carry concealed in Boston as long as you don't live there.

  2. It just depends on what town you live in. It can be really easy or really hard. I'm glad to hear you had an easy time.

    Anyone who has an unrestricted LTC-A can lawfully carry in Boston. However, Menino orders the BPD to issue restricted licenses to Boston residents. Makes sense, huh?

  3. Actually, I should have said Boston gives restricted LTC's to most residents. If you're politically connected, you can get unrestricted.

    There are a few other ways to get unrestricted without being connected. I have an unrestricted license.

  4. don't forget that the gun laws in MA spell out what you need to do for the licence, and this would be illegal. You are not required to take extra qualification test, not required to take a psych test, but some towns require it. Not allowed to charge more than $100 but some do that too. . . guess no one has taken them to court over it yet or the law was just ignored like they do here. . .

  5. If you want to fight this, drop Comm2A an email. They may not provide financial support, but they'll at least give your lawyer some good info.

  6. You might consider that being obviously disabled might make someone appear vulnerable to a predator. In Massachusetts, we have a duty to retreat if safe to do so when confronted by an attacker outside our homes. Someone who is disabled may not be able to retreat or fight back in self defense, and is thus completely at the mercy of a violent criminal.

    I agree about contacting Comm2A. They are active and aggressive in challenging unfair laws and regulations in the courts. They can help.

    Wishing you well, in the spirit of freedom.


  7. Um the 357 is loaded with .38! The trigger pull is more like 5 pounds!
    I have arthritis and bilateral neuropathy and was able to pass this test with ease on the coldest day so far this year. Not to mention that I shot all 30 rounds double action since the trigger pull was light.
    I had never even shot a 38 revolver and still managed to pass with a weak score of 235.

    She should of atleast made an attempt.

  8. So who's anonymous... Laci, dog gone, or mikeb302000? Come on, fess up. At least you're writing original content instead of your usual plagiarism.