The Volokh Conspiracy

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Naturalized citizens and guns: A victory in Massachusetts


From Ngo v. Evans (D. Mass. Nov. 7, 2014) (emphasis added):

To be eligible for a license to carry firearms in Massachusetts, an applicant must provide the appropriate licensing authority with, among other things, proof of residency, age, and U.S. citizenship. The constitutionality of these requirements is not at issue. [The citizenship requirement is likely unconstitutional, at least as to noncitizens who are permanent residents, see, e.g., this post and this one, but that is a story for another day. -EV]

Plaintiff Phuong Ngo, the foreign-born son of a naturalized U.S. citizen, is a resident of Boston. He applied in July of 2014 to the Boston Police Department for a license to carry firearms. Shortly prior to a fitness interview scheduled for August 21, 2014, Ngo was told by an unidentified uniformed officer in the Licensing Unit that he was required to prove his citizenship by presenting either a birth certificate or naturalization papers, neither of which are available to him. The officer refused to accept his U.S. passport as proof that he is a U.S. citizen.

On September 22, 2014, Ngo, together with Commonwealth Second Amendment, a gun rights advocacy group, filed this Complaint with requests for injunctive and declaratory relief. On being served with the lawsuit, the Boston Police Department, through Detective Lieutenant John McDonough, the Commander of the Licensing Unit, updated its written policy … to specify a valid U.S. passport as an acceptable means of proof of U.S. Citizenship. In light of the formal change of policy, the court no longer has before it a justiciable controversy and the matter is moot.

Glad to see this victory, both for the rights of naturalized citizens and the right to bear arms, and congratulations to Commonwealth Second Amendment.