The head of the State Police has informed troopers fired for failing to get COVID shots that their permits to carry firearms will be “expired” as of next week.
Col. Christopher Mason’s letter, obtained by the Herald, adds the ex-troopers’ ability to possess guns or ammunition will be suspended until they seek licensing through their hometowns.
“Please be advised that effective July 6, 2022, your Massachusetts State Police issued License to Carry Firearms … will be expired by the MSP and will not be renewed,” Mason writes in the letter dated June 20 and shared with the Herald Wednesday.
Thirteen troopers were discharged by the State Police after the height of the pandemic for failing to get a mandatory vaccine against COVID-19. It is unclear if all of the officers dismissed have received a letter, but the Herald was told that most have.
“I didn’t know the state police had the authority to ‘expire’ an LTC,” Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners Action League said. “I’m really not so sure they do.”
Gov. Charlie Baker, on Aug. 19, issued an executive order — No. 595 — requiring that all employees of the state’s executive branch, which includes the State Police, be vaccinated with only “limited exemptions” on religious or medical disability grounds.
The order took effect in October and is enforced by “progressive discipline up to and including termination.”
All of the terminated troopers had applied for exemptions under the grounds provided but were denied, according to State Police Association of Massachusetts spokesman Chris Keohan. He told the Herald in April that there was no framework in the law to appeal those denials.
Mason’s June letter goes on to tell the former officers they may not possess any firearms as of next week and until they seek a license outside the State Police.
“You will no longer be permitted to have firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, large capacity feeding devices, and ammunition in your possession. Possession of a firearm and/or ammunition without an LTC is a criminal offense” he wrote, with the last two words in boldface.
Former troopers have been advised, according to the letter, that they must surrender their firearms to a licensed person for the time being and that they must go through their hometown police chief in order to get a new license approved — a process that can take months.
“You may transfer any of your weapons or ammunition to a person who is lawfully licensed (to) take possession of these items or surrender them to your local police department,” Mason wrote. “Following the expiration of your MSP issued LTC, you have the right to apply for a (LTC) through your local licensing authority.”
The State Police and the union representing troopers did not return requests for comment.
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