Poll of Mass. police chiefs finds respondents favor discretion in issuing concealed gun permits

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Who decides who can carry concealed firearms legally? Should local police chiefs have a say? Massachusetts police chiefs think so. A new survey finds that a large majority of Massachusetts police chiefs favor continuing to give local police discretion in whether or not to grant concealed carry hand gun permits in their jurisdiction. Massachusetts is one of nine states with a “may-issue” concealed carry permit law, which gives a police chief discretion in issuing a gun permit; most other states have “shall-issue” laws that limit police discretion. In about half of those states, police have no discretion at all and a police chief must issue a permit if the applicant passes a computerized federal background check.

The study was published online April 16, 2015, in the Journal of Public Health Policy.

“There are proposals to require reciprocity among states in terms of gun carrying permits. Reciprocity means that anyone with an Alabama permit could legally carry in Massachusetts. But before we begin a discussion about reciprocity, we first need evidence about who is obtaining permits in what types of regulatory regimes,” said co-author David Hemenway, professor of health policy at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.