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Excellent Decision on Firearms from MA Supreme Judicial Court

Keith G. Langer March 31, 2022

From today's MA Lawyers Weekly:

"Forfeiture of improperly secured firearms reversed

By: Mass. Lawyers Weekly Staff March 31, 2022

A dozen firearms that a defendant was convicted of improperly securing were not subject to automatic forfeiture under G.L.c. 276, §3(b), the Supreme Judicial Court has determined.

“This case presents the question whether firearms found to be improperly secured, according to the requirements of G.L.c. 140, §131L, are subject to forfeiture under G.L.c. 276, §3(b), which regulates the disposal of certain firearms seized during the execution of a search warrant,” Justice Serge Georges Jr. wrote for the unanimous court.

In the commonwealth's view, the 12 firearms were covered by G.L.c. 276, §3(b), which mandates the forfeiture of firearms found to have been kept unlawfully. The defendant argued, by contrast, that the forfeiture statute applies only to firearms possessed or used unlawfully and not, like the storage statute, to firearms lawfully possessed but unlawfully stored.

Georges acknowledged that the plain language of the contested provisions is ambiguous regarding the statutes' relationship to each other.

“A thorough examination of both statutes in their entirety, however, convinces us that the Legislature did not intend to make improperly secured firearms subject to automatic forfeiture under G.L.c. 276, §3(b),” he wrote.

The 26-page decision is Commonwealth v. Fleury, Lawyers Weekly No. 10-038-22."

In other words, guns seized for mere negligent storage does NOT provide the police with grounds to destroy your property. This is good news for gun owners.