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http://www.telegram.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050110/NEWS/501100511/1116

Gemme gets tough on guns

Rules for licensing made more stringent

By Milton J. Valencia TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF

WORCESTER-Revisions that Police Chief Gary J. Gemme has made to the Police Department's gun-licensing policy have made it one of the most stringent in the state, the chief said, calling it an effort to limit who is eligible to obtain a gun license in Worcester.

The chief said he was motivated by recent instances in which people with clean records were able to obtain a gun but then were seen with known gang leaders, leaving police to wonder who is in control of the weapon and the reason for which it is being used.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives has said it has seen more cases of such "straw" people obtaining a gun to provide it to someone who is precluded, for various reasons, from having a license. Chief Gemme has said his policy, released last week, redefines a "suitable" person, one of the criteria state law leaves to local licensing authorities to define.

The policy could trigger opposition from gun-rights advocates. At least one group tried unsuccessfully to meet with the chief after hearing of his plans to revise the Police Department's policy. The group's leader said last week that the chief's policy interferes with the public's rights.

"What we have is a heck of a constitutional crisis on our hands," said James Wallace, executive director of the Northboro-based Gun Owners Action League.

State gun laws already restrict who is eligible to have a gun, barring convicted felons, people convicted of violent crimes, or people convicted of misdemeanors for which they could have received a two-year prison sentence. There are other restrictions, such as an age minimum of 21.

Still, local licensing authorities, typically police chiefs, can use their discretion in defining a suitable person. Municipalities throughout the state have different policies, but must follow state laws on the issue. Anyone can appeal a local licensing authority's decision, but then must prove why he or she is eligible for a gun.

Chief Gemme said his new policy narrows the definition of a "suitable" person.

Under his plan, an applicant can be disqualified if he or she:

•Has been arrested for a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for more than two years;

•Has been arrested for any felony or any incident involving physical violence or threats to commit physical violence;

•Has been involved in a domestic violence incident that results in the issuance of a temporary or permanent restraining order against him or her;

•Has had any drug arrest, including marijuana;

•Does not have a job;

•Has been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or has multiple minor alcohol-related arrests;

•Has had any past or present affiliation, association or cohabitation with any person or group with a known criminal history.

Moreover, the chief said he will ask applicants their intended use of the weapon, rather than allowing them to check off a box saying it's for "all lawful purposes."

Under the chief's plan, the only allowed purposes will be:

•Sporting, for which the gun can be used only at shooting and target clubs;

•Target practice, for which it can be used only at a shooting club or facility;

•Hunting, for which a license will only be issued for a large-capacity rifle and a shotgun;

•Personal protection, in which case the applicant must specify the reason he fears injury to himself or his property.

The chief also listed criteria an applicant must follow under the personal protection category: If a license is issued for work or employment, the weapon may only be used while acting within the scope of employment, such as transporting money to and from a place of employment or depository. If it's for a business, the weapon may only be kept at the business, or may be carried within a set time frame. If the weapon is used for protection at home, the license holder may not remove the weapon from the home. Anyone violating the terms of the license could see the license revoked.

Under the chief's plan, only active and retired law enforcement holders may say the weapon will be used for "all lawful purposes."

The policy applies to first-time applicants and applicants for license renewals.

Mr. Wallace of the Gun Owner's Action League blasted the plan, saying it bans people who were arrested but found not guilty. "Get arrested by the chief's police officer and you'll lose your Second Amendment rights. That's great," Mr. Wallace said.

He also questioned the police chief's limit of lawful purposes. Mr. Wallace said a person has the right to defend himself and said if the police chief believes a person doesn't need a gun for personal protection then police would have no reason to carry guns themselves.

"We run into the same people on the streets," he said. He even questioned why the chief would need a gun if he doesn't arrest violent criminals.

Mr. Wallace said state law gives licensing authorities the right to examine an applicant, but said the discretion comes with responsibility. He used as an example of a wise decision a case in which an applicant was disqualified because of a mental illness. But he said the chief crossed a line across constitutional rights by setting such strict standards for the general public.

"Criminals don't carry what the police chief says; criminals don't care what policies say," he said. "They do what they want to do." He argued the public needs to protect itself. He cited statistics that he said showed gun-related assaults and accidental shootings have increased even though tougher gun laws have been passed. "They're going after the wrong people," Mr. Wallace said.

"Criminals are laughing at (police)," he said. "They're saying, 'Go ahead, disarm the public. It will make our jobs that much easier.' "

Mr. Wallace said his group has been lobbying to have new laws passed creating a statewide definition of a suitable person. That way, he said, there would be no difference applying for a gun from one town to another. "If chiefs like this one in Worcester really want to go through with this, then they're abusing their power," he said. "We need a statewide system anyone can follow."

Until then, he said, his group will reach out to legislators to object to the chief's plans.

The chief has said that state law does not cover every angle needed to examine a gun applicant. He has questioned if a suitable person is someone who, though he has a clean record, "takes his firearm, concealed, toward a nightclub at 2 in the morning." He has said the new policy was meant to limit the scope of people who qualify to hold a gun and will assure they're using a gun for proper purposes.

"We're going to go from being one of the more liberal (departments) in the state to one of the more restrictive," Chief Gemme said.
 

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Ya know..............

It's a tough world out there. But I just can't buy automatic pre-emptive restrictions on people because of their "associations with" others, or less than pristine past. Like this Chief has a Chrystal Ball.
:roll:
Reminds me of Diane Skoog in Carver.
 

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More feel good BS.

What criminal gives a rats ass how many laws you pass to limit access to firearms for law abiding citizens?
And more so he's just going to make more work for the review board because he's in direct conflict with it when it comes to certain criteria for denial.

Jesus...
 

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SOT_II";p="52473 said:
More feel good BS.

What criminal gives a rats ass how many laws you pass to limit access to firearms for law abiding citizens?
And more so he's just going to make more work for the review board because he's in direct conflict with it when it comes to certain criteria for denial.

Jesus...
Wish that were true, but as I understand it, the new law that put the review board in place was mandated to hear ONLY disqualifications due to minor misdemeanors. Thus, arbitrary denials don't fit in that category and the review board doesn't have the authority to do anything. Denials can go to court, but it cost a bundle. Atty Karen MacNutt once quoted >$20K in legal fees to fight it in District Court, where she said you can't win since the judges work day-to-day with the local chiefs and thus won't step on the local chiefs for using their "judgment", and then appealing it to Superior Court where you might have a chance at a fair hearing. It also is my understanding (IANAL) that "downgrades" (e.g. LTC-A/ALP to a "restricted LTC-A or LTC-A to LTC-B) are not considered "denials" and thus do not have a statutory right to appeal in court. This is another abusive tactic used. Chief Ron Glidden has the right approach, which he teaches to LEOs/Chiefs in his seminars and at the Academy . . . if you can't trust someone to carry a gun responsibly, why are you issuing ANY permit? So, if you issue a permit at all, he recommends LTC-A/ALP for every permit.

Some day the members of the Joint Committee on Public Safety will have heard "enough" of these abuses and perhaps support a bill for a statewide LTC, with one set of rules and taking away all discretion of the local chiefs! And if that day ever occurs, it will be because of people like the Worcester and Quincy chiefs abusing their power and authority.

The only effective way to deal with these "tin gods" is by putting political pressure on those that appoint them. In Carver, it cost a few Selectmen their positions to change the mind of their chief!
 

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•Has been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or has multiple minor alcohol-related arrests;


These would qualify in some cases for review.
 

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SOT_II";p="52511 said:
•Has been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or has multiple minor alcohol-related arrests;

These would qualify in some cases for review.
Sorry I was so all-encompassing!

Yes, he did throw in some real statutory disqualifiers in his interview with the reporter.

I was really addressing his "discretion" issues on issuance, although I neglected to say as much. Sorry, my bad!
 

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According to the WPD licensing division, they will not issue ALP permits to auxiliary officers either. Only full time.

I personally wrote a good letter to the chief and deputy chief, but just got a canned letter back, followed by another page from the chief stating something to the effect of "I feel my new policy is fair and will make all citizens of the commonwealth safer."

Yeah, because I'll feel a lot safer when my ability to carry is taken away from me. :x
 

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When the licensing authority can guarantee the people that they will be free from violent attacks, then they can suspend the 2nd amendment...of course, neither Stalin nor Hitler could make that guarantee.

Keep an eye out for the FBI uniform crime report...it should be interesting to contrast previous years after this foolish policy has been on the books for awhile.
 
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