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Morin v. Leahy

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

June 29, 2017

ALFRED MORIN, Plaintiff, Appellant,

          Date of Issuance 7/5/2017


          J. Steven Foley, for appellant. Janelle M. Austin, with whom Brian W. Riley and KP Law, P.C. were on brief, for appellee Leahy.

          Julia E. Kobick, Assistant Attorney General, Government Bureau, with whom Maura Healey, Attorney General of Massachusetts, was on brief, for appellee Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

          Before Torruella, Kayatta, and Barron, Circuit Judges.

          TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge.

         Dr. Alfred Morin ("Morin") applied to renew his Class A License to Carry ("Class A License").[1]Mark Leahy ("Leahy"), Chief of Police of the Town of Northborough, denied Morin's application, because Morin's two prior convictions for firearms-related misdemeanors barred him from obtaining a Class A License under Massachusetts law. Morin brings an as-applied constitutional challenge, arguing that Massachusetts law infringes on his Second Amendment right as a "law-abiding, responsible citizen[] to use arms in defense of hearth and home." District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 635 (2008).[2] Morin also brings a claim for declaratory and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("§ 1983") against Leahy, seeking issuance of a Class A License. Morin's constitutional argument fails, however, because a Firearm Identification Card ("FID Card"), [3] in conjunction with a permit to purchase, allows one to acquire a firearm[4] and to possess it in one's home, and thus to exercise the Second Amendment rights at issue in the present case. The denial of a Class A License therefore does not implicate Morin's Second Amendment right to possess a firearm in his home for self-defense, which is the only Second Amendment right he has asserted in this litigation. Because Morin has failed to show a constitutional violation, his § 1983 claim fails as well.

         Morin also challenges the constitutionality of the Massachusetts statutory scheme that governs the issuance of FID Cards, because, as the parties agree, due to his prior convictions he will also be denied a FID Card if he were to apply for one.[5]However, Morin lacks standing to bring such a challenge, because he has not applied for a FID Card, and has thus not been denied one. Therefore, we affirm the decision of the district court.

         I. Background[6]

         In 2004, Morin drove from Massachusetts to Washington, D.C., where he attempted to visit the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Upon seeing a sign outside the museum indicating that firearms were not allowed into the museum, Morin approached a security guard to check his gun for which he had a Massachusetts Class A License. The security guard called the police who then arrested Morin. Morin later pled guilty to attempted carrying of a firearm without a license, D.C. Code § 22-103 (2004), and possession of an unregistered firearm, D.C. Code § 6-2376 (2004).[7] At the time, both violations were misdemeanor offenses under D.C. law. Morin otherwise has no criminal record.

         In 2008, Morin sought to renew his Class A License with the Northborough Police Department. Morin incorrectly answered in the negative a question regarding past convictions for firearm violations. The Northborough Police Department, through a standard fingerprint check, learned of Morin's convictions in D.C. Leahy denied Morin's application because, due to Morin's prior convictions, Leahy was statutorily barred from issuing a Class A License to Morin. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131(d)(ii)(D), (k). Morin filed a new application for a Class A License in 2015, this time correctly answering the question regarding past firearm violations. Leahy again denied Morin's application due to Morin's prior convictions.

         Morin filed suit against Leahy on March 25, 2015, arguing that Leahy's denial of Morin's application for a Class A License violated his constitutionally protected right to possess a firearm for self-defense within the home, and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief under § 1983. Morin argued that the statutory subsection requiring the denial of his applications, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131(d)(ii)(D), violated the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution both facially and as applied to him. On August 12, 2015, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts intervened in the case. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment.

         On May 18, 2016, the district court granted the Commonwealth's cross-motion for summary judgment. The district court denied Morin's as-applied challenge because Morin only applied for the least restrictive Class A License and did not apply for a more restrictive license, such as a Class B License to Carry ("Class B License") or a FID Card.[8] These alternatives would allow one to have a gun within one's home in accordance with the Second Amendment right of "law-abiding, responsible citizens" to defend "hearth and home." Heller, 554 U.S. at 635. The district court also concluded that "Morin's facial challenge cannot be maintained, because his own situation presents a set of circumstances in which the application of section 131(d)(ii)(D) is constitutional."

         After an unsuccessful motion to alter or amend the district court's judgment, Morin filed a timely notice of appeal, ...

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