Second Amendment Weapons Charges

In Commonwealth v. Loadholt, involving weapons charges and a defendant’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms,  the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rejected for a second time a defendant’s challenge of a conviction for possession of a firearm and ammunition without a firearms identification (FID) card.  The defendant specifically challenged the requirement of “prior approval by a government officer” before one may possess ammunition or a firearm as a violation of the Second Amendment.

The case was back before in the Massachusetts Supreme Court due to a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision, McDonald v. Chicago, which reversed an Illinois handgun ban based on a holding that the Second Amendment is fully applicable to the States by virtue of Fourteenth Amendment. The Massachusetts Supreme Court had previously affirmed the defendant’s weapon charge conviction based on its holding that the Second Amendment does not apply to Massachusetts, and his further appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court resulted in a remand for further consideration in light of the McDonald holding.

The Massachusetts court had previously affirmed the firearms possession conviction under a combination of state statutes that prohibit carrying of dangerous weapons by a person with a previous violent crime or drug crime conviction. Reviewing the case based on the recent McDonald holding, the court again affirmed the conviction based on what some might call a technicality: the defendant had failed to assert or show that he had sought and been denied an FID card. Further it noted that the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller has already ruled that a citizen’s Second Amendment right did not prohibit laws regulating who may possess and carry weapons or purchase them, or where such weapons may be carried.  In Massachusetts, in those cases where an FID card was denied, the applicant may petition a court in the district court that has jurisdiction over the city or town where application was made.  Presumably, judicial review would provide adequate protection of an individual’s rights under the Second Amendment.  A Massachusetts gun possession lawyer can explain the latest legal developments to clients who have been charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, underage possession of a firearm, possession of a concealed firearm without a Class A permit, and other similar crimes.


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