New changes in effect for gun permit applications in Chicopee - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

New changes in effect for gun permit applications in Chicopee

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(Western Mass News file photo) (Western Mass News file photo)

New changes are in effect for Chicopee residents who are looking to apply for a gun permit. 

The Chicopee Police Department now asks applicants for two letters of reference, when in the past it has just been contact information. 

This change went into effect on Monday. 

The Chicopee Police Department said that seeking letters will save officers time to track down references and help speed up the process for those applying for a license to carry.  

The State's top gun advocacy group told Western Mass News they believe the new procedure is unnecessary and possibly a violation of state law. 

"This is not an infringement on anybody's rights. The second amendment not to stop gun owners but it's to speed up the process," said Chicopee Police Officer Mike Wilk. 
A Western Mass News investigation last fall revealed that Chicopee recorded big increases in the number of class a licenses issued, with an additional 201 gun permits from 2015 to 2016.

To apply for a license in Chicopee you must take a state mandated class, submit a money order, and undergo a live firing to show you can handle a firearm.

Moving forward you must also have two letters of reference.
"Without those letters of reference having to track people down you would wait one week, two weeks, three weeks, before your application went through because we had to verify those references," Wilk noted. 
This changes has sparked some questions from the Executive Director of Gun Owners Action League, also known as G.O.A.L. 
"Anytime we see things added to the process I always ask the question, 'what is the problem you are trying to solve?," said Jim Wallace. 
Wallace said the change is unnecessary and in his opinion could violate public records laws in the state.
"If you're forcing somebody to get a letter of reference you are forcing people to divulge that you have a license or are trying to get a license and under state law that is protected information," Wallace explained. 
He said his group has been advocating for changes to the current system which despite mandates from the state can vary slightly by city or town.
"We have been trying to get a uniformed license system in this state for decades and we just haven't been able to get the chiefs and the state to get together to get it to happen," Wallace added. 
Officer Wilk explained to Western Mass News who qualifies as a reference is up to the police chief. 

Wilk also said that the letters don't need to be notarized but warns potential applicants of the penalties of falsifying references:
"You could be subject to filing a false police report because these are official police documents, and you're going to lose your permit. You will not get a license to carry if you do that," he noted. 

Officer Wilk said any Chicopee resident with questions regarding this change can call Chicopee Police at 413-594-1770.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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