Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Firearms License Application was Denied. Can I appeal?

There are two categories of reasons your application for a firearms license may be denied.

An application for a License to Carry Firearms will be denied if you are disqualified under the terms of M.G.L. c. 140, s. 131. Generally, if you have been convicted of any crime punishable by more than 2 1/2 years in prison, been convicted of a violent crime or crime involving firearms, controlled substances, or any other felony, you are ineligible to obtain a license to carry firearms (LTC). You may also be unable to obtain an LTC if you have been treated for substance abuse addiction, or been confined to an institution for mental illness.

However, even if you have not been convicted of a disqualifying offense, the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in your town must still subjectively determine that you are "suitable" to possess firearms. Even if you are statutorily eligible to obtain an LTC, if the police chief finds you "unsuitable", your license will be denied. The Chief Law Enforcement Officer may consider nearly any evidence at his or her disposal, including police reports, court records that did not result in convictions, sealed records, the applicant's truthfulness on the application, and a number of other subjective factors.

Appeals to District Court

A denial made on the basis of "suitability" must be challenged in the District Court where the applicant resides. The burden of proof is on the applicant to prove that the chief's decision to deny the license to carry firearms was "arbitrary and capricious".

Appeals to the FLRB

A denial made on the basis of the applicant's statutory ineligibility may, in certain cases, petition the Firearm License Review Board for a determination that the conviction is not to be considered a statutory barrier to obtaining the sought after license. The FLRB only has the authority to review certain misdemeanor convictions, and the burden of proof falls on the petitioner to demonstrate that the disqualifying conviction does not impact their suitability to possess a firearm.

It is important that you understand that the Firearms Licensing Board (FLRB) has the authority to review only misdemeanor convictions, and that the FLRB may not review convictions for:

a) an assault or battery on a family or household member, or a person with whom you have had a substantive dating relationship, as defined by G.L. c. 209A, § 1;

b) a crime involving use, possession, ownership, transfer, purchase, sale, lease, rental, receipt or transportation of weapons or ammunition for which a term of imprisonment may be imposed; or

c) a crime regulating the use, possession or sale of controlled substances.

In addition, the statute specifies that the FLRB may not review a petition if the petitioner:

a) has a disqualifying felony conviction;

b) has multiple misdemeanor convictions, unless the offenses arise from one incident;

c) was denied a license to carry on the basis of suitability rather than a disqualifying conviction (the District Court is the appropriate forum for appeal in this case); or

d) is disqualified for a reason other than a misdemeanor conviction, such as having an active warrant or restraining order.

Finally, the FLRB may not review a petition until after the passage of five (5) years since the misdemeanor conviction or release from supervision, whichever is last occurring.

Also note that a decision by the FLRB in the applicant's favor does not automatically grant a firearms license - the chief of police may still exercise his or her discretion with respect to the applicant's overall suitability. The FLRB can only grant state relief to the issue of statutory ineligibility

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Can a "Federally Prohibited Person" still obtain a Massachusetts FID Card?

An applicant seeking to possess certain firearms in Massachusetts may obtain a Massachusetts Firearm Identification Card (FID) even if they have been previously convicted of certain offenses. Under state law, as long as at least five years have passed since the completion of the imposed sentence on certain non-violent felony offenses as either an adult or juvenile; convictions for the use, possession or sale of controlled substances; conviction of certain non-violent misdemeanors punishable by imprisonment for more than two years; or the conviction under any law relating to weapons or ammunition for which imprisonment may be imposed, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts shall issue the applicant a Firearms Identification Card.

However, an applicant with any criminal record should proceed extremely cautiously. Even though Massachusetts has issued an FID, the possession of a firearm by certain individuals convicted of the above offenses may still be federally prohibited from possessing firearms, and doing so is a crime punishable by up to ten years in federal prison.

Every time you purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer, the dealer will complete a form ATF 4473, and will perform a NICS check with the FBI to ensure you are not a "Federally Prohibited Person" as defined in the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (18 U.S.C. § 922(g)). The information supplied on form ATF 4473 will be run through millions of electronic records in state and federal databases to see if the person trying to buy the firearm meets one of nine different categories of reasons for which federal law would prohibit them from being in possession of a firearm. Under federal law, the conviction of many of the crimes described above will create a permanent federal prohibition on firearms ownership.

Should the instant records check discover information which establishes you are ineligible to possess a firearm, your transaction will be denied (i.e., you can't purchase the gun), but the story does not end there.

A Brady denial means it is illegal for you to be in possession of any firearms, even those you already own at home, and even if you were able to obtain a Massachusetts FID Card. If you want to avoid possible seizure and forfeiture of your guns, get them into storage with either an FFL or transferred to a friend or relative who you know is legal to possess firearms and who agrees to hold them and not let you have them until your situation is resolved. You may need to memorialize this transfer on an FA-10 or E-FA-10, if you are in Massachusetts.

Once you get your guns safe and receive the statement of reasons for your denial, you should contact an attorney who is familiar with the field of firearms law.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Median Family Income Figures for Chapter 7 Qualification Rise April 2013

Every six months the United States Department of Justice releases new Median Family income figures for each state and territory. These figures are used to calculate a debtor's eligibility to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. If a debtor's income is greater than the median income for their state of residence and family size, they many not be able to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

The Means Test calculation compares the average monthly income (as calculated over the last six (6) months) to the median family income in a debtor's state for a household of their size. If the average monthly income is lower than the median family income for the debtor's state of residence and family size, then they pass the means test and there is a presumption that they may file for Chapter 7 relief.

The Median Family Income for Massachusetts as of November 1, 2012 were as follows:

Family size 1: $54,475 per year
Family size 2: $66,076 per year
Family size 3: $80,822 per year
Family size 4: $101,523 per year

add an additional $7,500 per year for each additional household member.

These figures went down slightly in each category from these figures.

The Median Family Income for Massachusetts as of April 1, 2013 are as follows:

Family size 1: $55,602 per year
Family size 2: $67,443 per year
Family size 3: $82,495 per year
Family size 4: $103,624 per year

add an additional $8,100 per year for each additional household member.

If your income is greater than the median income for your state of residence and family size, you still might meet part (b) of the means test after taking into consideration certain expenses as defined by the Bankruptcy Code and other deductions, including regular charitable donations (up to 15% of your income), school expenses, payments on 401(k)/IRA loans, and health Insurance. If you are subject to this calculation an attorney can help you perform this task.

Click here to learn more about The Means Test or use our Means Test Calculator.

To have an attorney help you with these calculations call 508.655.5980 to schedule a consultation or e-mail us here.
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