More and more these days, I get calls from people who want me to assist them in obtaining a Massachusetts firearms license (gun permit,) or to represent them in an appeal of a permit denial they have received. Importantly, these aren’t people who have been accused of committing any crimes – they’re law-abiding citizens who want to legally carry a gun. Even more striking, the vast majority of these people have never carried any kind of firearm before.
Some who are reading this post this might think these people are suspicious types – ne’er do wells, uneducated people, or hunters. As a Massachusetts gun license lawyer, I can assure anyone: They’re not. In fact, the vast majority of them are educated, working people who never before though that they’d ever want to own a gun – but now they want to. What drives them to want this?
The answer is a toxic mix of factors:
- The shocking increase in mass shootings across the country – and they fear that one day, they themselves might be in a store, in a theatre, or on a street where a mass murderer starts shooting people, left and right.
- Women who fear being assaulted
- Business owners who transport cash and other valuables to and from their places of business
- Motorists who fear that a road-rage driver could follow open fire on them, or follow them to their destination and then open fire.
- Everyday people who see and fear the exponentially increasing violence in movies, violent video games, and even “music.”
Such people are not imagining these threats. They are very real. Like it or not – and dispensing with nationalistic chest-thumping about how America is the “greatest nation on earth,” the fact is that we live in a violent, violent society. I don’t think it’s ever been more violent. We’ve become “used to” it, but just look at everyday life in America has changed over just the past dozen years or so:
- Massachusetts state office buildings, from the Massachusetts State House, own (as well as other states) all have metal detectors at each entrance. All people and packages entering these buildings, have to be scanned and searched for weapons of any kind, or explosives.
- All Massachusetts courts require the same. The only exception: Licensed attorneys.
- Private office buildings have security guards posted in the lobbies, and almost no one is allowed entrance without ID and a clearance phone call to the person the visitor is seeing.
- Movie theatres are now staffed with uniformed, armed police officers.
- High schools – and even grammar schools – are now equipped with metal detectors and some even have armed police officers on site.
- The number of home invasions has increased, higher than ever before.
- Department stores employ additional security spotters – having nothing to do with shoplifters or loss control. Their sole function is to profile people who may present a threat of violence.
None of these things existed when I was growing up. In fact, none of these things existed until the early 2000’s. So it is easy to see why many people fear for their personal safety, and the safety of their families and loved ones. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants citizens the right to carry weapons.
Yet gun control advocates have their own arguments to limit the number of people given Massachusetts gun licenses – they could even cite some of those same facts above, to support their arguments.
What, then, do we do about this conflict? I’ll talk about that in Part Two of this post, later this week.