Massachusetts Judge Strikes Down State Gun Lock Law as Unconstitutional

Under the heading that "Massachusetts judges split over Supreme Court gun ruling," a Massachusetts judge recently struck down the state's gun luck law as unconstitutional.

BOSTON, MA -- State Police Lt. Richard Bolduc has Justice Antonin Scalia and four of the judge's colleagues on the U.S. Supreme Court to thank for the likely resurrection of his law enforcement career.
On June 25, 2007, Cape Cod detectives went to Bolduc's home to investigate a report that his son had pointed an unloaded gun at a 5-year-old girl and pulled the trigger. When the 12-year-old son directed investigators to an unlocked bureau in his father's bedroom, they discovered a department-issued, high-capacity handgun that was not secured with a trigger lock.
The 34-year police veteran, who was not home at the time, was charged under G.L.c.140, §131L with the illegal storage of an unsecured firearm in his house.
A felony conviction, which appeared likely, could have landed Bolduc in jail for up to 10 years and ended his career.
But then Bolduc hit the legal lottery.
His lawyer, Daniel W. O'Malley of Quincy, was able to persuade a Barnstable District Court judge, and eventually the county's district attorney, to dismiss the case based on District of Columbia v. Heller, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling decided less than 24 hours after Bolduc's criminal troubles began.
"Having a case dismissed as a result of the Supreme Court handing down such an outcome-altering decision the day after someone is charged with a crime sounds like something from a James Patterson crime novel, not from a courthouse on the Cape," remarks former prosecutor Paula J. Clifford, a Boston lawyer who was not involved in the case. "[Heller] is obviously an extremely significant case that's going to be cited by lawyers throughout the state, but to have that kind of an immediate impact is pretty unusual."
A no-go in Chelsea
The eight months since Heller have been frustrating ones for Revere lawyer Carmine P. Lepore, of Lepore & Hochman, who says lower court judges are split over what the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision means to §131L prosecutions. . . . .

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Blogger John A. Visser said...

This is indeed good news for Massachusetts residents and for all who cherish the 2nd Amendment, and our individual liberties.

I would like appreciate some interpretation of this decision from those who know something of the law, prosecutorial discretion, and the legislative process. Will the law be taken off the books? Can other prosecutors simply ignore this decision? What should a citizen do?

3/29/2009 5:46 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear John:

Unfortunately, this precedent doesn't go very far and there seem to be conflicting judgments in Massachusetts. Also I can say is that the law will stay on the books and that you need to make sure that you get a very good lawyer if you run into any trouble. Sorry, I wish I could have better news.

3/29/2009 6:17 PM  

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