Something is rotten in the city of Lowell, Massachusetts. As Fox News reported, Lowell recently enacted a new gun control law making it even harder to carry a concealed handgun. The city now forces citizens to pay more than $1,100 for five days of firearms training and write an essay justifying their desire for armed self-defense.
Advocates of gun control couch this requirement as some kind of public safety standard. It’s obvious, however, that Lowell’s new law is nothing more than an artificial barrier, constructed to stop as many people as possible from exercising their Second Amendment rights.
First, one must be wealthy enough to pay the $1,100 and have a flexible job or lifestyle that allows you to take the necessary classes. Telling underprivileged individuals they may only exercise their right to armed self-defense if they have enough resources is wildly discriminatory. Covering basic administrative costs related to permitting is one thing, but this statute is as draconian as it is unnecessary.
But even if an applicant can afford to jump through these excessive financial hurdles, they must then write an essay explaining to the chief of police what reason they would have to exercise their right. Do you need to write an essay to practice your religion? Should journalists write essays asking the government for permission to report the news?
Hypotheticals aside, this inane standard presumes only those who can compose a well-written essay—which the chief of police finds convincing—deserve to exercise their rights. Rights shouldn’t be reserved for those who get the best grades in English class.
Additionally, such an arbitrary system relies entirely too much on the opinions of the police. While many states have concrete, objective standards for concealed weapons permits, Lowell has opted for a process entirely dependent on the character of the chief of police. Any prejudices of the department could be exercised behind the veil of public safety, further empowering the police to make decisions about what citizens can and can’t do.
This regulation is as discriminatory as a poll tax or literacy test. The city of Lowell is actively preventing poor and less educated citizens from exercising rights that the wealthier and better-connected can enjoy. They should treat their citizens like equal members of a constitutional republic, not like subjects.