Suitibality Applications

License Application Instructions

Applicants with Suitability Concerns


Beginning on January 1, 2015, Chapter 284 of the Acts of 2014 will dramatically curtail the ability of police chiefs to deny someone a license to carry firearms. Police chiefs will still be required to deny a license to someone who is barred by law from obtaining a license. However, if an applicant is not barred by law a police chief must issue a license unless the chief “in a reasonable exercise of discretion” determines that the applicant is an ‘unsuitable’ person to be licensed.  

Traditionally, Massachusetts police chiefs have had nearly unlimited discretion in setting their own standards for determining who is and who is not ‘suitable’. That broad discretion changes with the new law and now police chiefs will have to justify non-statutory license denials based upon a demonstrable risk to public safety.   The new law requires that:

A determination of unsuitability shall be based on:

  • reliable and credible information that the applicant or licensee has exhibited or engaged in behavior that suggests that, if issued a license, the applicant or licensee may create a risk to public safety; or
  • existing factors that suggest that, if issued a license, the applicant or licensee may create a risk to public safety.

The new limits on a police chief’s discretion present a good opportunity for people who may have had ‘suitability’ issues in the past to finally obtain a license to carry. This article is intended to assist individuals who have been denied a license in the past because of ‘suitability’ issues or who have been hesitant to apply for fear of being denied.

Check Your Town’s Licensing Procedure and Requirements

The very first step is to check your town’s application requirements and procedure for submitting and accepting license applications.   In most cases all of this information will be available on the police department’s website. In some instances a trip to the police station will be in order.   Pay particular note to:

  • Whether an appointment is required and how they want you to make it – phone, email, on-line;
  • Accepted forms of payment -- cash, check, money order. Some departments only accept cash, some won’t accept checks, etc.;
  • Additional requirements such as letters of reference, etc.

You will want to satisfy all of your department’s non-statutory requirements.   While these requirements may no longer be justifiable, this is NOT the battle we want to fight here with your application. Resisting these requirements will only make any potential suitability issues more difficult.

Gather Necessary Documents and Validate Eligibility

Make sure that you are not barred by law from obtaining an LTC.   Convictions or juvenile adjudications for any felonies, misdemeanors punishable by more than 2 years imprisonment or for other drug, gun, or violent offenses are typical prohibitions as are most past commitments for mental illness or substance abuse.   You may need original court documents to verify that a past issue is NOT a disqualification. This is not an opportunity to revisit or revise your record. You will have to deal with your record as it stands. Questions can be directed to Comm2A at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you’ve had past concerns about ‘suitability’, be prepared to address them directly. Do not attempt to minimize, misrepresent or otherwise hide this information on the application.  Your record is what it is and you need to be prepared to speak to it directly.

Make sure that you’ve taken a state-approved basic firearm safety course and that you have the required certificate.

If you’re required to submit letters of reference pay particular attention to the requirements for those letters. Most departments only accepted original, typewritten and signed letters from non-family members. In some cases the writer is asked to directly comment on your suitability to possess firearms. Some departments require letters to be notarized.  Letters should be short and to the point. The writer should state how long they’ve known you and in what capacity, that they’ve always known you to be a responsible person and that they’re not aware of any reason why you wouldn’t be a safe and responsible gun owner.

The same general rule applies if you’re required to submit a letter to your chief outlining your reasons for wanting to own a firearm. Do NOT make any reference to a need or desire to carry a firearm in public, outside your home or business. Do NOT make any reference to exercising your Second Amendment rights. Doing so will only complicate a possible appeal by making it a ‘carry’ case. As of this time, the only constitutional protection that can be claimed in the courts is the right to keep a gun in your home.

Complete the Application

Download and complete the application. If your police department does not provide their own copy download it from the state’s website. You will want to do this even if your police departments wants you to fill out an application on-site or takes your application ‘verbally’ by asking you the questions and entering your responses into the computer. If this is the practice at your department, simply read the answers as you’ve prepared them from your application. Make sure you keep a copy of the application as YOU completed it.

Questions 4-14 are yes/no questions where a ‘yes’ answer requires further explanation on the next page. Pay particularly close attention to Question 10. You must answer ‘yes’ to this question if you have ever been arrested or summonsed to court on a criminal complaint. This includes juvenile appearances or appearances where the court records may have been sealed. Be prepared to provide a copy of any relevant court documents. Court documents are preferred over a CORI report or other probation documents. Probation records are frequently mis-coded and incorrect.

Provide the names and address of two references. These can usually be the same as in any required letters. If is almost unheard of for a police department to contact these references, but it could happen.

Reason(s) for requesting the issuance of a card or license

If you have specific reasons for wanting a license, they should be listed here. The preferred answer is “home protection and target practice”. Do NOT request a license for all lawful purposes or request that the license be issued “Restrictions: None”.  

Submit Your Application

If you’ve not already done so, contact your police department to set up an appointment to submit your application. If your department doesn’t require an appointment in advance, go ahead and bring your application packet to the police station. Make sure that you’ve made a copy of your entire application packet, as you completed it, prior to submitting your application.

If the police department declines to accept your application or if they are unable to provide you with an appointment in a timely manner, contact Comm2A through this link and provide as much information as possible.   



Comm2A works with a talented group of attorneys who all share a passion for civil rights and have extensive firearms related practices.  We work closely with these attorneys to formulate winning legal strategies and advance Second Amendment rights. Comm2A provides this list as a public service.