It seems Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker thinks he is above the law—at least as far as guns are concerned. Even though district court judges have ordered that hundreds of law-abiding citizens should have their permits reinstated, Baker has stood firm on rejecting the order.
The legal battle started seven months ago, when state officials asserted that the Firearm Licensing Review Board was granting permits to people who could have been federally barred from owning a gun.
Baker defended his position by saying that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) noted that the Review Board had crossed the line. The ATF “made very clear to us” that the permits should be revoked, Baker said, as reported in The Boston Globe.
But judges disagree with that argument and seven separate judges have ordered that gun licenses in their jurisdictions be reinstated. One of those judges—Michael D. Brennan, who was appointed by Baker—went so far as to call the revocation of one citizen’s license “erroneous, arbitrary and capricious.”
Most of the cases involve people who have been convicted of nonviolent misdemeanor offenses who had subsequently successfully petitioned for the right to own a gun. One case, for example, concerns a man who once pleaded guilty to receiving $100 worth of stolen goods. Twenty years after the plea, he fought to restore his Second Amendment rights and won the case. Earlier this year, the state confiscated his guns.
No one from the ATF was cited in the article, which might well indicate that Baker is stretching things a bit.
But that’s beside the point. The fact of the matter is that this country’s government was set up to be divided into three branches that can serve as a system of checks and balances. A state executive can’t simply defy the courts because he wants to.