Gun permit applications rise
by Town Reminder
Gun permit applications rise
Police see threefold increase since November
By Kristin Will
SOUTH HADLEY – Fear of future roadblocks combined with the political atmosphere seem to have more residents heading to the police station to apply for gun permits.
The South Hadley Police Department has seen a threefold increase in new applications since November of 2012.
“Some individuals have told me they want to get their permit before there are more restrictions,” said South Hadley Police Lt. Steven Parentela. “They fear it’s going to be more difficult to obtain them in the future.”
Last month’s school shooting spurred serious talk about gun control from both Governor Deval Patrick and President Barrack Obama, and heightened awareness of personal safely.
“We’ve seen an increase in first-time applicants since the November election that has remained kind of steady,” said Parentela. “We can’t attribute it solely to the Sandy Hook tragedy.”
In a time period of November 2012 to Jan. 9, 2013, 40 South Hadley residents applied for gun permits for the first time. These numbers do not necessarily reflect the amount of applications granted and do not reflect gun permit renewals.
From November 2011 to Jan. 9, 2012, just 14 residents applied for first-time gun permits. In that same timeframe for 2010, 14 residents applied; in 2009 it was 22. And in 2008 and 2007, 12 residents applied for gun permits in that same time period each year.
Last year, a total of 111 South Hadley residents applied for first-time gun permits. Statistics show a continual rise in new gun permit applications since 2008 with a spike in November of 2012.
A total of 90 residents applied for new gun permits in 2011, 81 in 2010, 64 in 2009 and 63 in 2008.
A substantial amount of information is sought from residents who apply for gun permits to obtain a Firearms Identification Card [FID] or a License to Carry.
First, the resident must visit the South Hadley Police Station to apply and pay a nonrefundable $100 fee. A background check and a criminal records check are completed on the individual.
Their name and information is submitted to the Department of Mental Health to determine if he or she have ever been committed to a state facility for treatment. Fingerprints are taken and submitted to the Massachusetts State Police, who will run the prints against a nationwide database to determine any criminal activity in and out of the state.
The South Hadley police check with the Board of Probation to determine if the resident has a criminal record in any New England State.
Not only does the South Hadley Police Department run a check on the individual, but the Firearms Records Bureau conducts their own, as well.
Separate permits are required to carry a handgun and a rifle or shotgun.
Once a permit is granted, it is good for five years. Permits expire on an individual’s date of birth.
A fee of $100 is required to renew each license every time, up until the resident’s 70th birthday.
An FID card can be obtained by a resident 18 years old and older, or, with parental consent, by someone who is as young as 15 years old. An FID card grants an individual the right to use a rifle or shotgun only.
Requirements for an FID card are less strict than a License to Carry.
A License to Carry can be obtained by an individual 21 years old and older. This license grants the individual the right to use a handgun in addition to a rifle or shotgun.
There are numerous grounds to deny a resident a permit for a Firearms Identification Card or a License to Carry.
Parentela said the South Hadley Police Department denies “very few” – about less than one percent. Most residents with a criminal record know they would be denied, he said.
A felony record automatically disqualifies a resident.
For a license to carry, which has more stringent requirements, residents who have a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of more than two years will be denied. So will those who have committed a violent crime defined by the Massachusetts General Laws [MGL], such as assault and battery, those have violated the law pertaining to weapons or ammunition, those who have violated the law regulating the use of controlled substances, anyone who has been confined to a hospital or institution for a mental illness, those undergoing treatment for drug addiction or habitual drunkenness and anyone subject to a restraining order.
For an FID card, a resident can be denied if convicted of a felony, residents who have a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of more than two years, those who have committed a violent crime defined by the MGL, those have violated the law pertaining to weapons or ammunition and those who have violated the law regulating the use of controlled substances
Specifically related to just an FID card, a resident who has been off probation for five years may have their right to obtain an FID card restored, unless the crime committed was a violent crime defined by the MGL or involved trafficking drugs.
This is not true for a License to Carry.