Firearms Records Bureau v. Simkin

by Steve MacDonald

holstered-gun1

Update: Fixed Link to case

In early August a firearms/right to carry case was settled in the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts that has some significant ramifications but that has been grossly under-reported, if it has been reported at all.

Nashua, New Hampshire resident and Federally Licensed Firearms dealer Jay E. Simkin (Attorney Penny Dean), successfully overturned a lower court decision that had sustained the revocation of his unrestricted non-resident Massachusetts firearms carry permit.

Long story short, the state revoked his temporary nonresident Class A unrestricted license to carry firearms in Massachusetts on the grounds that he was no longer a “suitable person” because he had, in their view, exceeded his stated purpose for claiming to need the license and because…employees of the medical office where he sought treatment, and where the complaint leading to revocation originated, were “alarmed” and “concerned for their safety” at the sight of his weapons.

Let’s review the facts of the case.

From FindLaw

On November 6, 2009, Simkin traveled to Stoneham for a medical appointment. At the medical office, and in order to protect his privacy, Simkin used a pseudonym (“Horace Jones”) and registered under a Maryland address. He also declined to provide a phone number, and, at the conclusion of the medical examination, paid the $1,500 bill in cash. Prior to disrobing in the examination room, Simkin informed the medical assistant that he was armed and proceeded to secure his weapons (two firearms, ammunition, and four knives) in a locked briefcase for the duration of the examination. Employees of the medical office were “alarmed” and “concerned for their safety” based on Simkin’s conduct, and one of the employees contacted Stoneham police much later that day to report their concerns.

Read the entire thing.  It is not long but the background is helpful.  And, besides, I’m going to jump right to the conclusion. Emphasis mine.

Simkin held an unrestricted Class A license to carry firearms. Although Simkin indicated on his license application that he sought the license for reasons of personal protection related to his business activities, the license itself carried no restrictions; it entitled Simkin to carry firearms “for all lawful purposes.” G.L. c. 140, § 131 (a ). The argument that Simkin’s carrying of firearms to his medical appointment demonstrated unsuitability because the appointment was not related to his business activities is therefore meritless. The contention that Simkin’s being “heavily armed” contributed to his unsuitability is similarly meritless, where that characterization originated with the manager of the medical office (of unknown expertise with firearms), and where Simkin’s license permitted him to carry more than one firearm.15 See G.L. c. 140, § 131 (a )

Next, we suspect that the average Massachusetts resident may become “alarmed” on learning that someone other than a law enforcement officer is carrying concealed weapons in his or her presence. However, Simkin is not responsible for alarm caused to others by his mere carrying of concealed weapons pursuant to a license permitting him to do exactly that. Although the bureau claims that Simkin “went out of his way to show and inform certain staff members that he was ? armed,” the record indicates otherwise. Simkin concealed his weapons until he was in the examination room and was about to disrobe, at which time he notified the medical assistant that he was carrying concealed weapons and was going to secure them, presumably so that she would not be alarmed. Further, he had disclosed the fact that he was armed immediately prior to disrobing during a previous visit to the same medical office, albeit to a different practitioner, and had received no objection to his behavior either during or after the visit.

“Simkin is not responsible for alarm caused to others by his mere carrying of a concealed weapon pursuant to a license permitting him to do exactly that.”

Let it sink in.

It is almost as brilliant–maybe more so because it came from the Massachusetts SJC–than the NH State Supreme Court announcing that an unloaded firearm is not loaded.

Congratulations to both Penny Dean and Jay Simkin.

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