Massachusetts’s Highest Court Issues Two Decisions Upholding the State’s Law Requiring the Safe Storage of Firearms
Posted on March 13, 2013
News stories of children who accidentally kill or injure themselves when they find an unlocked gun in the home are far too prevalent. Studies consistently reveal that many children who commit suicide or accidentally injure themselves or others using a firearm obtain those firearms from their own homes. In order to prevent the deadly consequences of unlocked guns in the home, Massachusetts has adopted a law requiring a firearm owner to secure his or her firearm in a locked container, or use a trigger lock, when the firearm is not carried by the owner or within the owner’s control.
In two separate cases, defendants argued that the safe storage law violates the Second Amendment. Rejecting the defendants’ arguments, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts concluded that the law “is consistent with the right of self-defense in the home….” The court reasoned, “Any law regulating the storage of firearms will delay to some degree the ability of a firearm owner to retrieve and fire the firearm in self-defense. If such a brief delay were sufficient to render the law unconstitutional, the Supreme Court in Heller would not have declared that its analysis did not suggest the invalidity of firearm storage laws.” Because few courts have had occasion to address the constitutionality of a safe storage law, these decisions serve as very useful precedent and hopefully will encourage other jurisdictions to adopt similar safe storage laws.
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