Discretion is Disaster, why ‘May-Issue’ laws contravene the 2A

Massachusetts CLEOs are bitching about a change in a gun-control bill that would remove their authority to arbitrarily deny one the right to keep and bear arms, according to a recent Boston Globe article.

Currently, the Bay State has a ‘may-issue’ standard when it comes to prospective purchasers of handguns. If one wants to purchase a handgun, one has to first obtain a license to carry, which involves passing a background check, paying a fee and obtaining the approval of one’s local police chief.

As the License to Carry Firearms application states, “A License is issued at the discretion (by choice) of the local Licensing Authority to residents of the Commonwealth” (emphasis added).

Under House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo’s new legislation, the ‘may-issue’ standard to purchase a handgun would be expanded to include Firearms Identification Cards that cover the ownership of shotguns and rifles, meaning CLEOs would have ultimate control over one’s right to own firearms any sort.

Fearing that this contravened the Second Amendment, state lawmakers in the Senate wisely opted to nix the ‘may-issue’ policy with respect to long guns, which upset the CLEOs, who by and large supported the expanded powers, and who held a rally on Tuesday demanding the ‘may-issue’ provision be put back in the bill.

“Our position is really very, very simple,” Wayne Sampson, executive director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, told Fox News. “We, as an association, believe that it’s unconscionable that if we determine a person is unsuitable to carry a handgun, that they can then turn around and apply for a Firearms Identification Card, which allows them, by law, to purchase rifles and shotguns. And there’s no way we can impose any restrictions on that. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Sampson claims that the organization’s 351 chiefs have a keen understanding of their communities, and are therefore perfectly situated to determine the suitability of potential applicants.

“In our smaller communities, it’s very easy to check how many responses we’ve received for a certain address,” he said. “We know whether it’s a parent or a child having problems, or if it’s a domestic situation [involving a gun]. These are things that are very legitimate for us to take into consideration. It’s all about public safety.”

“It’s all about public safety” — Hell No! It’s all about control, not just gun control, but control period. Power too. CLEOs want more authority, more power to wield over the masses (I know. I sound like one of those NRA commentators now, don’t I?)

But the truth is that one of the most important questions a free society must consider is who’s policing the police? Who is holding those in power accountable for their actions? Who is keeping the government Leviathan from consuming its own people?

I’m not going to bore you with another history lesson on why the Second Amendment was enshrined in the Constitution, but to say that we all know that guns are necessary to keep government tyranny in check. And if we allow law enforcement discretion to determine the suitability of who can and can’t own a firearm we are significantly marring our ability to protect and defend our way of life.

Simply put, ‘may-issue’ discretion is disaster for this country. It undermines the one safeguard we have against those who are willing to wantonly gut our founding principles in the ever-expanding effort to increase “public safety.”

Massachusetts, don’t let those CLEOs infringe upon your rights!

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Douglas DeViney January 6, 2015, 11:44 pm

    I can imagine how much butt kissing would be required in their localities. It won’t just be public safety, but how well you toe the arbitrary line that the chief lays down. Something that may not be illegal can be enforced with, “How badly do you want your guns?” “Well then let’s do this my way.” Or Tricky Dick saying, 55MPH or you don’t get the Fed. Tax dollars for your highways. Every little locality would have it’s own “rules” made at the whim of the chief.

  • Terry January 3, 2015, 1:33 pm

    Since when are the CLEOs the ones the state legislature should be responsive to. The legislature is supposed to be responsive to the electorate, meaning the citizens of the state. The Chiefs of Police are merely citizens and there aren’t enough of them to be able to wield such power just because of their job. On another front, this legislation if it contains the language sought by the CLEOs will be struck down by the Supreme Court anyway, just as it did in D.C. (even though that bastion of liberalism and gun grabbers has tried to circumvent the decision). The constitution applies to all the state and local governments just as it does the federal behemoth.

  • MarkOwen September 22, 2014, 8:57 am

    Are there any states left where you don’t need a permit to purchase or carry openly besides Wyoming?

    • Michael E. Hensley January 3, 2015, 11:32 am


  • shootbrownelk July 28, 2014, 8:13 pm

    Here in Wyoming we can carry openly or concealed, no CC permit needed. I have one because I travel to other states that honor my Wyoming permit. And I don’t plan to visit any anti-gun states on the east or west coasts.

  • Russ July 28, 2014, 3:40 pm

    What a bunch of misinformed Democrats,or well informed socialist/communist
    Take your pick.
    Sadly we have them all over California.
    Vote, and good luck with that.

  • Peppone July 28, 2014, 1:56 pm

    They have a **good understanding of their communities ? So Hitler, Staline, Pol Pot, King George and that Porky in Pyong Yang. We all know what it’s all about : POWER TYRANNY,

  • DaveGinOly July 28, 2014, 1:11 pm

    State legislatures are not elected to serve government employees, or to respond to demands from law enforcement. They serve and answer to only the people. The dog is supposed to be wagging the tail, not the other way around.
    “It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.”
    George Washington

  • Mo HIcan July 28, 2014, 12:23 pm

    The title of this piece is wrong – The original intent of the bill of rights – ie the first ten amendments to the US Constitution is a chain on the FEDERAL government, and not states or localities.

    Under the original intent, states and localities had the purview to craft their own laws, including laws on firearms.

    • DaveGinOly July 28, 2014, 1:28 pm

      Strictly speaking, you are correct. But where the Bill of Rights mentions the rights of citizens (as in the Second Amendment) , and not merely a restriction on Congress (as in the First Amendment’s “Congress shall make no law…”), it establishes those rights as belonging to “the People,” and therefore the States must treat them with “due process.” (“Due process” is “judicial process” – according to the courts – meaning that you can only lose your rights as punishment for a crime. The term “due process” does not refer to the legislative process; when a legislature infringes upon citizen’s rights, it violates the separation of powers by exercising a judicial power – the authority to strip a person of his or her rights.) If the States were permitted to infringe upon the rights mentioned in the Bill of Rights, a situation might arise in which the rights protected by the Bill of Rights from congressional infringement no longer exist, having been exterminated by the States. Obviously, this was not the authors’ intent. You cannot have in the collective that which is missing from its parts.

      • dink winkerson July 30, 2014, 12:34 pm

        “Due process” can take away INALIENABLE rights. Suppose “shall not be infringed” can also fall victim to “due process”. This grammar is elementary school stuff, not complicated at all. Just the way the founding fathers intended.

      • Norman Conway January 4, 2015, 11:10 am

        Left out is the fact that allowing states to pass laws interfering with 2nd amendment rights opens the door to taking away other rights. If you disagree read a little history and explain actions like the alien and sedition act, prohibition, Lincolns suspension of habeas corpus and the current Obama Care. If anyone can state that these actions never took place or make an argument to justify them we have found just another LIAR. I forgot the basis for the voting rights act which actually should have required the same standards for all voters regardless of race or sex because the current system sure doesn’t appear to function by any fair or logical standard.

    • Joe McHugh July 28, 2014, 4:40 pm

      Mo HLcan, You are describing the travesty that is almost every state and county gun law in the United Sates. Why is it that the states feel that they can infringe on the inherent right of a competent, law-abiding adult citizen to keep and bear arms?
      Whether that citizen resides in a high-rise apartment complex or lives miles from his nearest neighbor, he should have all of the rights enumerated in the Bill Of Rights. Those rights are the inherent rights of human beings, rights that they are born with. The young woman in a dimly lit parking garage has an inherent right of having a credible means of self defense, unless the local government posts a policeman EVERYWHERE!

      The law-abiding citizen is not the problem, the problem is the people who misuse firearms. Why do the various states infringe on the rights of the people because of what the criminals do? The State of Vermont has zero restrictions on handgun ownership. Pop quiz. between the two adjacent states of New York and Vermont, which has the higher gun-related crime rate?
      Answer, New York State, BY A FACTOR OF FIVE! It’s not the firearm, it’s the people who misuse the firearm that the states should be controlling. When a person threatens, injures or kills a law-abiding citizen the state should throw that person in jail and throw away the key. No one “accidentally” misuses a gun, it is a deliberate, conscious action.

      The states are punishing the law-abiding citizens for the sins of the criminals.

      Let’s see if I can phrase this conundrum differently. If a state can abuse the citizens Second Amendment right, what would prevent that state from abusing that citizen’s right to free speech? Yes the word abuse is appropriate. The citizens in New York City are forbidden from owning and carrying a handgun unless he or she has a compelling reason for doing so, and even then it is at the discretion of the police commissioner of New York City. And yet there are estimates that there are at least as many handguns in criminal hands as there are New York City police men, approximately 50,000.

      The local governments are targeting the wrong people when they restrict, regulate or otherwise infringe on the law-abiding citizen’s right to enforce their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Think about it, what danger does a competent, law-abiding adult citizen represent when he or she carries a concealed handgun? Hint, the same danger that the uniformed policeman represents, namely none.

  • Sean Kendall July 28, 2014, 12:06 pm

    I know several people who live that benighted state. Because they live in small towns and know the chief of police and can get permission to have a firearm, they think their state is OK on gun laws. I once told one of them that I thought their state was not gun friendly and he was surprised because he had a shotgun and a handgun at home that he was “allowed” to own. I told him to try to get a concealed carry permit and then talk to me. Also, he didn’t know that as a Texas resident with a Texas CHL, I cannot bring my weapon to MA or carry it. I have to be “in transit to a recognized/official firearms competition in MA or a neighboring state.” If I was stopped and my handgun discovered, I would have to have incontrovertible proof that I was signed up for a competition. Doesn’t sound very free to me. Texas’ probable next Governor is talking about open carry with no license needed, MA is going in the opposite direction – towards tyranny. Oh, the gun would have to be in a locked container, unloaded and in a location where I could not access it while driving the car. I am not sure, but I think the ammunition has to be in another container, not with the gun. Seems crazy to me.

  • Jack July 28, 2014, 10:49 am

    I truly feel sorry for anyone who lives in that police state of PA.

  • Oz July 28, 2014, 8:17 am

    Permission or not, criminals will still have guns.

  • Joe McHugh July 28, 2014, 7:36 am

    The people in the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, (CLEO), are tin-pot dictators. Who are they that seem to feel so omniscient, that they can arbitrarily deny a competent, law-abiding adult citizen his or her Second Amendment right to carry Arms? They think that it is “unconscionable” that any such person be allowed to enforce his or her inherent right to carry a handgun where ever and when ever he or she sees fit, (excepting courtrooms and sensitive government facilities that have metal detectors).

    By the way, a law-abiding person is any citizen who has not been convicted of a violent felony, and a competent person is any citizen who has not been adjudged as being a dangerous psychotic in a court of law. The police chiefs simply do not have the power to classify anyone who lacks such a record as being “unsuitable” to carry a firearm.

    These would-be tyrants should be required to attend a class that enlightens them on the meaning of the Second Amendment, and to write a thesis on the tenet of that amendment to show that they understand it’s operative clause. To wit, “….the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

    If any of these police chiefs fail to grasp the intent of that clause, they must be inculcated on what the word “infringe” means until they experience the epiphany that they so sorely need.

    If any of these chiefs of tyranny still fail to see the light, they should be demoted to issuing parking tickets until retirement. In that capacity they would not be empowered to abuse the rights of other American citizens.

    On a personal note, I wouldn’t leave these “Police Chiefs” alone with a minor child due to their perverted personalities. I think that they are “unsuitable” to be entrusted with a child. Of course that’s just my opinion.

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