Home News Police Superintendant alone to decide on gun permits based on written essays

Police Superintendant alone to decide on gun permits based on written essays

Lowell PD Superintendent  William Taylor.  Credit: Facebook
Lowell PD Superintendent William Taylor. Credit: Facebook

Despite protests, a city gun policy is in place in Lowell, Mass., which requires anyone applying for an unrestricted gun license to state in writing why they should receive such a license.

The law also requires applicants to provide additional documentation, such as prior military or law-enforcement service, a prior license-to-carry permit, or signed letters of recommendation, according to the Lowell Sun.

The town of Lowell, police say, has about 6,000 gun owners with licenses to carry. Residents in the city of 110,000, north of Boston, are up in arms over this new law that says, to apply for a license they have to write an “essay.”

“It is absurd that people should have to write an essay to the town to explain why they should be able to exercise their constitutional rights,” said Jim Wallace, executive director of Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts. “We already have a very strict set of gun laws in the state, but this is way over the top.”

Lowell Police Superintendent William Taylor will review the written applications and determine who gets a license and who does not. State law sets guidelines and requirements, but gives local chiefs of police “broad discretion in implementation.”

Dissecting the matter even further on Fox News, commentators pointed out, almost humorously, how absurd it is to determine, based on a written letter if someone is qualified to own a gun.

Wallace agreed. “It’s like having a college professor say, ‘I’m going to read your essay and if I don’t like it, I’m going to give it back to you.” However, a Lowell Police spokesman said characterizing the written requirement as an “essay” is not accurate.

“We’re no longer taking a cookie-cutter approach to issuing firearms licenses,” City Manager Kevin Murphy told the Lowell Sun. Murphy noted that the new policy will allow Superintendent Taylor to look more closely at each applicant.

The new law in Lowell will also require a very costly specialized training course.

Randy Breton, a local firearms instructor told the Sun that the training requirement appeared designed to “purposely make it cost-prohibitive to apply for a gun permit.” One five-day course costs $1,100. “It’s beyond ridiculous,” Breton told the newspaper.

To understand how this policy came about in the first place, attorney David Jensen says, one must look closer at a year-old federal lawsuit brought by a Bay State gun-rights group. He says the suit stems from Lowell’s history of “denying qualified applicants permits to carry handguns without what the plaintiffs consider a legitimate rationale.”

Jensen said the jury is still out on whether the new policy will prove a “remedy” or just a more formal system for rejecting applications.

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