Editorial, Opinion

Gun laws and control proving tough, complicated

Gun control laws prove difficult to enforce in face of nuances in individual circumstances. Does a juvenile record, for example, disqualify a crime-free adult from obtaining a gun license? In Massachusetts, apparently so.

Boston native Mirko Chardin tried applying for a gun license 15 years after being arrested for carrying a gun for safety reasons. Chardin was denied by a Massachusetts law that bars him for life from obtaining a gun license because of his past arrest on a firearms charge, reported the Boston Globe on Monday. He was 14 when he began carrying a gun for his personal safety, after one of his friends was shot and killed while being robbed of a pair of sneakers, according to the Globe. He was a minor when he was arrested and has committed no crimes since.

Chardin is challenging the law that automatically disqualifies certain people from getting a gun license (especially that including anyone classified as a juvenile delinquent, according to the Globe) before the state’s highest court, arguing that it violates the Second Amendment. Chardin holds a Ph.D. and works as an administrator in a charter school. He also works at a used-car business, and wants to carry a gun to protect himself when carrying large amounts of cash.

How to address Chardin’s case? If the state makes an exception for Chardin, it will undoubtedly be forced to address numerous similar cases. Chardin presents a complicated issue: how to enforce strong and universal laws in the distribution of gun licenses in the face of a variety of individual circumstances? If exceptions are made, it might be easier for felons to obtain guns. In the case of Chardin, it seems unfair that one mishap strips him of his Second Amendment right. Generally, juvenile records are sealed after the age of 18. On the other hand, juvenile records often determine the future record of the adult — it’s important that the state take precautions to protect the safety of its residents. If Chardin wins, gun control regulations will have to be modified to both recognize the nuances in individual gun license applications as well as consider — in serious detail — the track record of the individual applying. Knowing when to trust an applicant will be much harder if we begin to be sympathetic to individual stories.

Still, Chardin’s circumstances are unfortunate. Perhaps the state can approve his license application alone while still continuing to recognize juvenile track records, which are often essential in determining whether an individual will be safe when in possession of firearms.

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