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Firearms License Review Board's Obstructionism Rebuked by Suffolk Superior Court

Keith G. Langer Jan. 30, 2021

For over half a decade, the FLRB has abandoned its role as a statutorily-created board of relief, claiming it had to do by a mere memo from the BATFE. It originally refused to even hold the mandated hearings, until that refusal was challenged in court.  

 It then conducted charade hearings, finding appellants suitable, but denying each on the grounds it had no authority to grant relief, citing that same mere memo from the ATF.

 The Suffolk Superior court has, correctly, held otherwise, declaring:

 "...the Board that has effectively deferred to a federal agency's cramped construction of its authority. Such a somersault of logic turns the clear intent of Congress on its head, and frustrates the very purpose that animates Section 921(a)(20). It is the considered judgment of the Court, therefore, that the right to bear arms is a civil right within the ambit of Section 921(a)(20); and a decision by the Board pursuant to G.L.c. 140, §130B that a convicted person who lost such a right is now suitable to be an LTC holder constitutes a restoration of that person's civil rights under this statute."

 Kudos to the two plaintiffs, Christian Capano and Ian Sisson, and their counsel for bringing an obstructionistic board to heel.

 The FLRB was fully aware of its excuse being rejected by the courts. It consistently lost cases in which it refused to renew existing licenses, yet continued its conduct. This court certainly noted the board's losses:

 " At least nineteen Massachusetts District Courts and two courts outside of Massachusetts have considered this issue and reached a similar conclusion. See DuPont v. Nashua Police Dept., 113 A.3d 239, 247 (N.H. 2015) (it is “unlikely that Congress intended to credit the restoration of ‘core rights' as indicative of trustworthiness, but  exclude the restoration of the very right at issue—the right to possess firearms—from the trustworthiness  calculus.”)"

 Let us hope those now appearing before the board will be treated properly, as before the board's adoption of the ATF's aberrant position.