Friday, October 9, 2009

Massachusetts high court to hear gun law challenges

From the Bay State:
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is expected to decide whether a state law that requires residents to apply for gun licenses with their local police departments is unconstitutional.

The challenge is being brought before the court by Paul W. Patten, a Fall River defense attorney who is representing Nathaniel DePina, 19, a New Bedford man serving a 2-year jail sentence after being convicted last year of illegally carrying a firearm.

Patten is appealing DePina's conviction on the grounds that the state gun licensing statute is "vague and overbroad," inconsistent in application and violates an enumerated, fundamental right protected by the Second Amendment.

"This is not just about guns. To me, this case is about the U.S. Constitution," said Patten, who will argue his case Nov. 5 before the Supreme Judicial Court.

"The commonwealth has unbridled discretion to decide who is a suitable person to receive a gun license, and what conditions that license can have," Patten said.

Rather than going through the appellate courts, Patten appealed directly to the SJC, saying the DePina case concerned basic constitutional rights that required a final determination by the state's highest court.

On Sept. 16, the SJC agreed to hear the case, and put out a call for amicus briefs. The Bristol County District Attorney's Office is expected to file its response later this month.

On Nov. 5, the SJC is also scheduled to hear arguments in Commonwealth v. Richard Runyan, a case in which the constitutionality of the state's safe firearm storage law is being challenged. The law requires stored firearms to be secured in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant safety device such as a trigger lock.

Both challenges are set against the backdrop of District of Columbia v. Heller, a landmark June 2008 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment applies to private citizens in addition to state-regulated militias. ...

Read the rest here. Given the anti-gun nature of the Peoples Commonwealth, I suspect that the justices will try to find a way to uphold the existing gun control laws.

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