For Immediate Release - March 10, 2010

Attorney General Martha Coakley Applauds Supreme Judicial Court's Ruling Upholding Validity of Massachusetts Safe Firearm Storage Law

BOSTON - Today, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) rejected a constitutional challenge to the Commonwealth's safe firearm storage law. The law requires stored firearms be secured in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant safety device, except when "carried by or under the control of the owner or other lawfully authorized user." It is intended to ensure that irresponsible persons do not gain access to firearms and to minimize the risk of accidental discharge. Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office filed an amicus brief in this case urging the Court to uphold the law.

"Every year, thousands of people are seriously injured or killed when unauthorized individuals gain access to unsecured firearms," Attorney General Coakley said. "Today's decision strikes an important balance to protect the public, especially our children, from the risks of unsafe firearm storage practices while also recognizing a gun owner's right to use a firearm for self-defense in his or her home."

The underlying case arises from a Lowell District Court judge's dismissal in October 2008 of an unsafe firearm storage charge that the Middlesex District Attorney's Office filed against defendant Richard Runyan in April 2008. The trial judge held that the statute impermissibly interfered with Runyan's Second Amendment right to keep a weapon for self-defense in the home. The Attorney General's brief argued that this decision was wrong because the Second Amendment does not restrict states' ability to protect public safety by regulating firearms, and the Massachusetts safe firearm storage law does not prevent the use of a firearm for self-defense in the home. Today, the SJC accepted the Attorney General's arguments.

The Attorney General's brief was prepared by Assistant Attorneys General James Arguin, Chief of Attorney General Coakley's Appeals Division, and Pamela Hunt, also of the Appeals Division. The brief was joined by several District Attorneys, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.