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Posted by on in Legal

bglogoDoes Jaime Caetano, a homeless woman, have the right to use a stun gun to protect herself from her ex-boyfriend, the violent man who is the father of her children?  She didn't even have to hit him with the stun gun.  According to a report in the Bostog Globe, all she had to do was show hm that she had it, and he left her alone.  If only the police could have done the same.

 The Globe reported, "The same stun gun, however, landed Caetano in the middle of a legal battle about the weapon and the right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment. She was convicted last year under a state law criminalizing the possession of stun guns by private citizens. Caetano is challenging the law in court, saying it violates her rights under the Second Amendment to defend herself."  See the full article here.

 She is now appealing her case, attempting to get her conviction overturned, based on two argements.  First, that the Second Amendment covers "arms" that are not firearms.  Second, that US Supreme Court decisions have implied a right to carry outside the home.  Also at issue is the question of whether a homeless person has the same rights for self-protection as a person who has a home.

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Posted by on in Legal

updown

With all the publicity regarding nearly every killing of one person by another, it is reasonable to ask, is this crime getting worse in our country, or better?  There are two national databases that collect relevant information on this.  Why two?  Do they agree with one another?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been collecting Uniform Crime Reports since 1930, so they have gotten very good at it.  The UCR data comes from voluntary police reports, so it attempts to collect all and only crimes that are known to police.  That data, for crimes that include murder, involve a lot of specifics: jurisdiction, circumstances (argument, robbery, gang-related), victim-offender relationship, and so on.  

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Posted by on in Legal

Dstun-gun-no-3oes it make sense to you that stun guns and tasers are not legal for private citizens in Massachusetts?  In a state where it IS legal to buy, own and use firearms, shouldn't everyone have the same access to these less lethal self-defense tools? Michael Rosman is trying to make that happen.

 

Who is Michael Rosman?  He is, a lawyer at a conservative/libertarian public interest law firm, the Center for Individual Rights in Washington DC.  He is working to bring a case in Massachusetts to challenge this law.

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Posted by on in Legal

 Gun being put in car trunk

 It is bound to happen at some point. You are carrying your handgun lawfully on a Class-A LTC on your daily errands when you have to go somewhere that you can’t take the handgun. Let’s say your child’s school calls – your son is throwing up and needs to be picked up within the hour. Massachusetts General Laws ch. 269, §10(j) clearly says that you can’t carry a firearm (or other dangerous weapon) on your person in a building or on the grounds of a school (including colleges) without the written authorization of certain school officials. In the wake of Newtown, it is not worth taking chances with this statute.
So what can you do? Unfortunately, the answer is not clear.
Chapter 140, § 131C concerns weapons in a motor vehicle. You can carry a loaded firearm on your person, under your direct control on a Class A permit. Someone with a Class B permit can transport a firearm unloaded and contained within the locked trunk or in a locked case or other secure container. Arguably, if you make a brief stop you are still transporting the firearm, and you could place it unloaded in the trunk (if you have one) or in a locked case or container. (The ammunition, apparently, does not need to be in its own locked container, but it must be separate from the firearm.) Trigger locks and cable locks do not count! A locked glove compartment might count, but the trunk or a locked case/container is a better option.
The other possibility is Chapter 140, § 131L which concerns weapons being stored by the owner. To comply with 131L, you need to secure the firearm in a locked container or equip it with a tamper resistant mechanical lock or other safety device. (§ 131L does not say the firearm has to be unloaded.) What is an appropriate locked container under this section – according to the Court, "the container must not merely be locked, but securely locked ... [i.e.,] maintained in [a] locked container[] in a way that will deter all but the most persistent from gaining access.” Com. v. Parzick, 64 Mass. App. Ct. 846, 850 (2005). Use something sturdy with a reasonable lock.
The only case interpreting this area, so far, is Com. v. Reyes, 464 Mass. 245 (2013). In Reyes, the defendant was a corrections officer who carried his firearm to work one day at the house of correction. When he asked for a key for a gun locker, he was told the lockers were all full. He put the handgun, including a loaded magazine, in the glove compartment of his car, parked in an employee lot directly in front of the entrance, and went to work. It is not clear whether the glove compartment was itself locked. Corrections officials asked to search his car and found the firearm. He was arrested, and convicted of violating both G. L. c. 140, § 131C (a) (carrying statute), and unlawfully storing a firearm (after leaving it in his motor vehicle) in violation of G. L. c. 140, § 131L (a) and (b) (storage statute). Reyes was granted a new trial after his appeal because the trial judge did not properly define “locked container” for the jury.
The Court said that leaving a firearm in an unattended vehicle while at work is storage under G.L. ch. 140 § 131L. A secured container “must be capable of being unlocked only by means of a key, combination, or other similar means.” The locked passenger compartment is NOT a secure container. The Court specifically mentions a locked vehicle trunk as a possible secured container.
As to the glove box, the Court says it might suffice under § 131L “depending on the particular factual circumstances including the nature of the locking mechanism, whether the motor vehicle was also locked and alarmed, and ultimately whether in the circumstances it was adequate to ‘deter all but the most persistent from gaining access.’”

The Court discusses § 131C, but does not explain whether § 131L applies to all instances of a firearm left unattended in a vehicle, or to only situations where the firearm has been left unattended for a long period. Reyes was convicted under both statutes, implying that both applied to him.

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Posted by on in Legal

Mug shot of Sandra Layne

A 75-year old woman named Sandra Layne recently endured a jury trial because she shot her grandson.  The shooting was never in dispute, just her claim of self-defense.

Here is some background, gathered to support her defense.  Sandra Layne and her husband, Fred, had agreed to take into their Pontiac, Michigan home their 17- year old grandson, Jonathan Hoffman for his final year of high school.  Jonathan had been living with his parents in Arizona, but depending on which story you choose to believe, his parents were divorcing, or his sister developed a brain tumor and so his parents needed to devote most of their time to her.

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Posted by on in Legal

Yesterday's Metrowest Daily News reported that there is currently a court case involving the legality of stun guns in Massachusetts.  Currently, both stun guns and tasers are illegal for private citizens to own.  

Stun Gun

A stun gun is a relatively small, handheld device with two prongs.  To be used, the prongs must be pressed against someone's body, and the current activated by a switch.  It is effective for as long as it is in contact.  A taser is quite a different kind of device.  A taser can be fired like a gun, and fires two barbs on the end of wires.  When the barbs contact a person, current is applied.  Generally, police have been using tasers quite successfully for many years.

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Posted by on in Legal

Those of us who have been around firearms licensing in MA for a few years now have encountered the patchwork of very different standards and requirements in different towns.  And then there's the matter of restrictions that some police chiefs put on the back of Class A licenses - those restrictions might be the topic of a later AWARE blog.  

Mass_Class_A_License.jpg

But now the Boston Globe's reporter, Brian MacQuarrie, has investigated the licensing situation and has done a darn good job of presenting the issues, together with some very interesting statistics on licenses.  

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