Massachusetts police chiefs should no longer deny or impose restrictions on licenses to carry a gun just because the applicant doesn’t have a “good reason” to carry, the state’s attorney general said in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Attorney General Maura Healey released guidance Friday for police chiefs in the wake of the decision overturning a gun-permitting law in New York. Under that law, New York residents needed to show proper cause, or an actual need, to carry a concealed handgun in public for self-defense.

Healey’s guidance says that Massachusetts police chiefs can still find applicants ineligible for a license if they are a “prohibited person,” or if the chief deems the person unsuitable to carry a gun because they would pose a risk to public safety.

Police can also still ask applicants their reasons for applying for a license to carry. But they can no longer deny or restrict licenses because they believe the person doesn’t have a “good reason,” according to Healey’s office.

“Going forward, if an applicant is not a prohibited person and is not unsuitable, the applicant must be issued an unrestricted license to carry,” the guidance from Healey, a Democrat, says.

*Massachusetts’ law says those deemed suitable can get a license to carry if they show “good reason to fear injury” to themselves or their property “or for any other reason,” including “for use in sport or target practice only.”

*Massachusetts courts previously ruled that if someone can’t show a “good reason to fear injury,” police chiefs can put restrictions on licenses that allow them to only carry in certain circumstances.

*In some communities, applicants have had to show they have a reason to fear injury that distinguishes them from the general population in order to get an unrestricted license. If they didn’t show a good reason, licenses were restricted for certain purposes, like hunting and target practice.

*Last three paragraphs; NOTE: (This just changed as of 6-30-22, as noted in first paragraph above)

Mark Shean, 7-5-22

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