A new policy in a Massachusetts town imposes burdensome steps on residents who want to obtain a license to carry a firearm: an essay exam and a $1,100 training seminar.
Pro-firearm supporters in Lowell last Tuesday pleaded with police and city administrators to ease new gun regulations, which among other things now require an essay of anyone applying for an unrestricted firearm license.
“I will never write an essay to get my rights as an American citizen,” resident Dan Gannon reportedly stated at a city council meeting last week, according to The Lowell Sun.
Additionally, those applying for permits must submit documentation, such as a letter of recommendation, a previous gun license or a military or law enforcement ID, and are required to take a firearms training course.
A police spokesperson in the town of 110,000 argues the new “essay” policy is being mischaracterized, but says it will better help vet gun owners.
“If you want a license to carry a firearm unrestricted wherever you want and whenever you want, the superintendent is just looking for some documentation as to why,” said Lowell Capt. Timothy Crowley. “That is not unreasonable to most people.”
But a lawyer who fights on behalf of gun owners said the word “essay” was the correct term to describe the requirement.
“An essay when you’re in school is when you write something, you turn it in and they grade it,” attorney Richard Chambers told Fox News. “This is an essay. And it’s also just another layer of bureaucracy they’ve tacked on to block people from exercising their rights.”
Gun rights supporters say the town’s essay requirement infringes on the Second Amendment.
“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,” Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts Executive Director Jim Wallace said in a statement. “We already have a very strict set of gun laws in the state, but this is way over the top.”
Critics also complain the $1,100 training course approved by the city is too costly, and is intended to discourage residents from applying for the license.
“It’s beyond ridiculous,” firearms-safety instructor Randy Breton said of the prices quoted to the public.
In Massachusetts, “state law sets guidelines and requirements, but gives local chiefs of police broad discretion in implementation,” reports Fox News.