Gun Laws & Legislation

Boston: An armed terrorist in a gun free neighborhood

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By Mike Sweeney, Gun Owners Action League – Massachusetts

Now that we have a fraction of distance from the terror bombings and subsequent manhunt of last week we would like to point out a few things that jumped out at us which clearly illustrate the many failures of the laws of Massachusetts which pertain to firearms ownership.

An unconfirmed report by the New York Times stated that the terrorists were in possession of 2 handguns and an “M4 carbine.”

Let’s remember, MA has some of the most restrictive laws in the country and MA legislators who wish to justify these laws are always falling back on the “we need to keep guns off the streets” catch phrase so that they can keep perpetuating the myth of the laws effectiveness.

Looking at the laws on the books and how hard it is for law abiding citizens to legally obtain firearms one would think that Massachusetts must be among the safest places in the country, right?

One major flaw in the rhetoric of the “keeping guns off the streets” crowd; criminals don’t care what laws they write, pass, or enforce.  As a matter of fact, criminals appreciate and look for areas which have laws similar to Massachusetts for one reason.  The laws make it easy for them to enact their mayhem.

Let’s look at what just happened, right here in the Commonwealth and the facts surrounding.

Fact 1.  Neither of the Tsarnaev brothers was legally able to be in possession of the firearms used during the shootouts and following attempted escape.  Dzhokhar at 19 years old is ineligible to apply for the license required to legally possess any of the firearms listed by the NYT.  His older brother Tamerlan at 26 years of age met that qualification but would also have been disqualified because of his 2009 assault arrest.

To reiterate, neither of the brothers were legally in possession of the firearms nor were they eligible to apply to be.

Fact 2.  The “M4 carbine” that they were allegedly in possession of is illegal to possess in Massachusetts.  IF, and this is a big IF this was a newly manufactured Colt M4 carbine as the NYT reports, and it wasn’t modified after leaving the factory, it would be classified an “Assault Weapon” by the state of MA C. 140: S. 121 applies to the definition and C. 140: S. 131M applies to the possession.  Without going into great detail, the only way a MA resident can legally possess an AR style semi automatic rifle is to have an LTC in good standing and for the rifle to meet strict standards as to which cosmetic features it has; otherwise it is considered an “assault rifle” by the state, possession of which is a felony.

Fact 3.  Just as it was illegal for them to be in possession of the M4 carbine, it was illegal for them to be in possession of any type of handgun.  Possession of a handgun in MA requires the same LTC license in good standing as issued by the state.  Once again neither of the Tsarnaev brothers was eligible nor met the state’s requirements to be issued an LTC.

Fact 4:  The MGL’s of the state of MA were completely disregarded by the Tsarnaev brothers.  On every level and at every step the laws on our books did nothing to deter their criminal actions.

Let’s look at the other side of the coin here.

During Friday’s manhunt there were tens of thousands of law abiding citizens living in fear inside their homes, on lockdown, waiting for one of 3 things to happen:

  1. A knock on the door from the police, who were searching for Dzhokhar.
  2. (This is the one people most feared) a knock on the door (or not) from Dzhokhar who would do who knows what while seeking shelter from the manhunt.
  3.  An “all clear” signal from law enforcement.

How many of the law abiding citizens locked down in their homes with a dangerous terrorist on the loose in their neighborhoods were completely disarmed and unable to defend their loved ones?  How many of them were wishing they were armed with a gun?

One thing is for certain, they all knew the terrorist was armed.

So there they were, the good citizens of Watertown hoping and praying, locked down and living in fear, waiting for the police to catch the dangerous terrorist, many of them disarmed and unable to defend their homes because politicians want to be able to claim they’re keeping “guns off the streets”.

Our legislators and police got lucky; during the manhunt Dzhokhar didn’t go into any houses, guns blazing and didn’t inflict any additional mayhem upon the good people of the Commonwealth.  For the most part there was nothing stopping him from doing just that, a murderer in a murder enabled zone is never a good combination and is never a good place for the law abiding to be.

There is no evidence of any kind that the restrictive and unconstitutional laws pertaining to firearms possession in the state of MA do anything to reduce crime.  There is ample case law from our Supreme Court which recognizes our Right to Keep and Bear Arms and yet, here we are, for the most part disarmed by our misguided legislators.  For more on this see our “Study Guide” page on

Looking back at that Friday manhunt the irony is striking, thousands of police officers on the streets armed with M4 carbines (guns on the streets!), riding on armored vehicles and in full body armor, searching for a terrorist who as it turns out was hiding in a boat, on dry land, in Watertown.


Editor’s note: Mike Sweeney is the Communications Manager with the Gun Owners’ Action League, please check out this group by visiting their website, they do some very good work –

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