BOSTON — The state’s highest court today ordered a new trial for two men convicted on gun charges because the weapon in question was manufactured before 1900, and thus not subject to Massachusetts license laws.
Wrote the Supreme Judicial Court in its decision, “a person does not need a license to carry a firearm made before 1900. The carrying of such an antique firearm, therefore, is exempted … from the prohibition … against carrying a firearm without a license.”
Reports the Globe:
The court noted that the Legislature had a valid purpose in making the [pre-1900] exemption, “namely to allow individuals to carry antique firearms to Revolutionary War and Civil War reenactments.”
The defendants, Leslie Burton-Brown and Liquarry Jefferson, were arrested in Boston in February 2009 after fleeing a police traffic stop. Once the defendants were stopped, police retraced the path of the car and found the gun, which police believed was thrown out of the car’s passenger window.
During their trial, the defendants’ firearm expert testified that the Harrington & Richardson .32 caliber five-shot revolver was manufactured in 1896.
In tossing the guilty convictions, the court concluded “that the [trial] judge erred in denying the defendants the opportunity to offer the affirmative defense that the firearm was manufactured before 1900 and therefore could be lawfully possessed without a license to carry, and that this error may have materially influenced the firearm and ammunition convictions.”
Universal Hub reports that Jefferson has a history of violent crimes.