New guidance seeks to clear state’s gun licensing backlog

New guidance seeks to clear state’s gun licensing backlog

BOSTON — The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a large backlog of gun license applications in Massachusetts with some police departments refusing to process them.

Finger printing is required to get a gun license and some department have stopped taking them due to COVID concerns.

About a dozen cities and towns have been sued for the delays.

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Documents obtained by 25 Investigates’ Ted Daniel shows plans are underway to clear the logjam.  The 9-page file, issued by the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) and the Massachusetts Police Chiefs, gives guidance to police departments on how to safely interact with applicants.

The EOPSS document was sent to police departments across the Commonwealth.  It advises them to have license applicants complete a health screening form prior to appointments, take the individual’s temperature upon arrival, allow applicants to fingerprint themselves under the direction of a licensing officer,  and permit applicants to submit fingerprints to neighboring police departments if the agency in their city or town is unable to take them.

“All of this was a commitment from the Secretary and from the Chiefs of Police to ensure that all licensed applications moving forward throughout the winter will go forward without any unreasonable delay,” said State Rep. Joe McKenna of Webster.

The new guidance comes just two weeks after 25 Investigates reported that Rep. McKenna was filing legislation to temporarily waive the fingerprint requirement for gun licenses.

“My hope is that if these policies and procedures are rolled out in a timely fashion and are effective, we won’t have the need for the legislation that was filed,” said McKenna. “At the end of the day, my concern is making sure that constitutional rights are preserved and that people can continue to move forward with an application without delay.”

An EOPSS spokesperson told 25 Investigates the guidance was created to provide a safe path forward through the pandemic. The plan hinges on the ability of local department to implement the recommendations.

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