Gun owners in Massachusetts with restricted licenses to carry will need to wait for laws — and attitudes — to change before they begin carrying concealed firearms in line with the expanded rights handed down last week by the Supreme Court, according to the leader of a local gun rights group.
“As soon as the (Supreme Court’s) decision came down, (Attorney General) Maura Healey said she will enforce Massachusetts law as it is. We have put out an alert asking people to be patient,” Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners Action League, told the Herald Sunday.
On Thursday the Supreme Court issued its opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, in which the high court said laws in that state unjustly burden residents through licensing requirements, impeding on their Second Amendment rights.
Gun rights advocates hailed the decision as historic, saying it will allow New Yorkers and those in states with similar laws, like the Bay State, to bear arms with fewer restrictions from the state.
Healey was quick to point out that laws in Massachusetts, strict though they may be, have coincided with a very low rate of gun deaths and remain very much on the books.
“I remain committed to doing everything I can to keep our residents and our communities safe. Massachusetts has one of the lowest gun death rates in the country because we know that strong gun laws save lives. I stand by our commonsense gun laws and will continue to vigorously defend and enforce them,” Healey said in a Thursday release.
Despite the court’s ruling and the “may issue” licensing laws on the books, Wallace said those who want to carry will still need to get a license or wait. Wallace said he does not doubt the attorney general’s vow to enforce the laws as they are at the moment.
“Don’t do it,” he advised those without licenses. “Those restrictions still apply until we get these things changed. The attorney general said she would enforce those laws and I believe she means it.”
Wallace said his group, along with group’s like the National Rifle Association, are already working to see what their legal options are going forward, but he’s certain the laws in the state will change as a result of what has come out of New York.
“But even there, in New York, with the law the Supreme Court just struck down, that state has to go through the process of going through those laws and seeing where things stand,” he said. “We intend to have a conference with some attorneys this week to see what our next steps are.”
Wallace says the Legislature could issue new laws immediately to make the lives of firearms owners easier but said it’s too early to jump the gun on carrying.
“Getting your rights, it’s a two-tiered fight. First is getting your rights legally recognized. The second tier is social acceptance,” he said.