, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 19, 2013

Lawsuit alleges gun rights violated

Permits denied based on decades-old marijuana convictions


Salisbury police Chief Thomas Fowler confirmed the town and he had been served, but declined to comment on the suit, saying he couldn’t speak to matters pending in court.

According to the complaint, Wesson applied for a permit to purchase with Salisbury police on Jan. 28, but quickly learned his application was denied. In 1993, Wesson applied for a permit, but was also denied due to his 1973 marijuana conviction.

Brent Carlton, president of the Jamaica Plain-based Commonwealth Second Amendment Inc., said the state has not justified its case that Wesson and Woods would be a danger to society if they were allowed to carry firearms.

“This has to be punishment because these people aren’t dangerous and weren’t dangerous before,” Carlton said.

Carlton said neither his organization nor the plaintiffs were angry or upset with town or police officials, saying it’s more a question of state law.

“In all reality, the chiefs are incidental; they are required to deny a permit to these people,” Carlton said.

Part of their argument, according to Carlton, is that had Wesson and Woods been faced with marijuana possession charges after 2008 when the state decriminalized the offense, the two wouldn’t have been denied gun permits.

“There’s a lot of things going on that absolutely make no sense,” Carlton said.

Since its incorporation in summer 2010, the nonprofit Commonwealth Second Amendment Inc, also known as Comm2A, has been a plaintiff in four federal lawsuits regarding the right to bear arms. Its purpose includes educating, researching, publishing and protecting the constitutional right of people to possess and carry firearms. It consists of a five-member board and funds activities through contributions.

On many occasions, clients will approach the agency and state their grievances, Carlton said. Should their plea resonate with the board, they are put in contact with attorneys, he said.

“We know the circumstances for a good challenge, so we keep our eyes open.” Carlton said.

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