The Second Amendment Foundation has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Boston, Massachusetts Police Commissioner Michael Cox, in his official capacity, over substantial and untenable delays in the police department’s processing of firearms license applications.
The lawsuit alleges the Boston Police Department’s licensing unit makes gun license applicants “wait for many months before it provides them with appointments” to be fingerprinted in order to complete their applications. The average delay appears to be in excess of six months, which directly delays the commencement of the background check process.
According to the lawsuit, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the Licensing unit stopped processing or accepting applications for Firearm Identification (FID) cards or Licenses to Carry (LTC). When operations were finally resumed, there was a huge backlog of applicants who were placed on a waiting list, which quickly grew into the thousands. This process took months, and only then could they begin the licensing procedure, for which state law allows a maximum of 40 days.
“Previously, in 2020 and 2021, the Licensing Unit made individuals seeking licenses wait for months on a ‘wait list’ before they could submit applications—a practice it abandoned in response to a prior lawsuit by some of the Plaintiffs here,” reads the complaint. “Now, the Licensing Unit is accepting individuals’ license applications without significant delay, but is making them wait for many months to submit samples of their fingerprints. Thus, while it has purportedly abandoned its use of a “wait list” to submit applications, the Licensing Unit is still using the equivalent of a “wait list” to prevent people from completing the application process.”
“In 2021 we sued over the delay and the case was ultimately settled at mediation,” recalled SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The wait list was to be eliminated by Oct. 31, 2021. However, this year the Licensing Unit is back to its same old foot dragging, making people wait for months to begin the application process. As a result, we’re back in court to make the department comply with the law.”
SAF is joined by the Firearms Policy Coalition, Commonwealth Second Amendment and four private citizens, Leslie Good, Kenley Exume, Robert Cox and Rudolph White. They are represented by attorneys David Jensen, Jensen & Associates in Beacon, N.Y., and Jason A. Guida at Principe & Strasnick in Saugus, Mass.
“A right delayed is a right denied,” said Richard Thomson, FPC’s Vice President of Communications. “The Bruen decision specifically mentions lengthy gun license wait times as something that could violate the Constitution, and now we’re coming to Boston to restore its residents’ Second Amendment rights.”
“There is no plausible explanation for these delays,” said SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut.
“We can only conclude the commissioner has adopted a policy or instituted a practice of delaying applications for many months, which amounts to deprivation of rights under color of law. We’re hoping the court provides a quick resolution to this practice and stops it cold.”
The Second Amendment Foundation (www.saf.org) is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 720,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.