News & Politics

Should You Have to Write an Essay to Get a Gun Permit?

A new gun law in Lowell, Massachusetts, requires applicants to write an essay in order to obtain a permit, claim gun rights activists.

The new laws take effect this week in Lowell, a city of 110,000 that lies 35 miles north of Boston. Pushed by Police Superintendent William Taylor and passed by the City Council, they require applicants for unrestricted handgun licenses to state in writing why they should receive such a license. Taylor, who was unavailable for comment on Monday, has sole discretion for approving or denying the applications.

“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.”

Complaints about the new gun laws surfaced at a hearing last week.  Not only is there a “written” requirement, but applicants must take an additional safety course, above and beyond the state requirements.  State law gives the local police chiefs discretion to implement firearms guidelines.

“I will never write an essay to get my rights as an American citizen,” resident Dan Gannon told the city council.

Well the Lowell Police Department does not agree.

“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,” Lowell Police spokesman Capt. Timothy Crowley said. “That is not unreasonable to most people.”

Despite objections, the laws were put into effect.

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

And if they don’t like your “essay” then what? You don’t get your gun permit?

“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,’” Wallace said.

Wallace told residents not to submit an essay and let the courts deal with the consequences of a denial.

Another regulation going into effect is the requirement for applicants to take an additional firearms course, the cost of which is $1,100. Seems prohibitively expensive and possibly, dare I say a deterrent.

I think we all know what’s going on here.