Heard: January 8, 2019.
License. Practice, Civil, Judicial review of license to carry
firearms, Action in nature of certiorari.
action commenced in the Superior Court Department on May 9,
2017. The case was heard by Gregg J. Pasquale, J., on motions
for judgment on the pleadings.
F. de Abreu, Assistant City Solicitor, for the plaintiffs.
W. Patten for Paul N. Caras.
Present: Massing, Desmond, & McDonough, JJ.
appeal, which arises from the denial of certiorari relief in
the Superior Court, concerns whether the chief of the Taunton
Police Department acted reasonably in revoking Paul N.
Caras's license to carry a firearm. A District Court
judge determined that revoking Caras's license based on a
single incident was unreasonable. Because the District Court
judge erroneously substituted his judgment for that of the
chief, we reverse the Superior Court judgment, which denied
the chief's certiorari petition, and direct the entry of
a new judgment enforcing the chief's revocation decision.
District Court judge found the following facts, which we
supplement with undisputed record evidence. Caras held a
license to carry a firearm since about 1967. On January 17,
2017, he was seventy-six years old and held a class A license
to carry a large capacity weapon issued pursuant to G. L. c.
140, § 131. On that day, Caras agreed to give his adult
grandson a ride to Providence, Rhode Island. Caras was
carrying a Sig Saur Model 232 handgun in the unlocked glove
compartment of his car. After picking up his grandson, Caras
made a brief stop, leaving the grandson alone in the car.
Caras knew that his grandson suffered from a substance use
of heavy traffic, Caras dropped off his grandson in East
Providence. Soon thereafter, he realized that his handgun was
missing from the glove compartment. He immediately suspected
that his grandson had stolen the gun, probably intending to
pawn it to purchase drugs. Caras searched East Providence for
his grandson and, when he could not locate him, reported the
stolen gun to both the East Providence police and the Taunton
police. Within a matter of hours police in Providence located
the grandson, still in possession of the gun, and arrested
him without incident.
next day, the chief determined that Caras was no longer a
suitable person to continue to hold a license to carry and
revoked Caras's license. The formal notice issued to
Caras by Taunton Police Captain Daniel P. McCabe explained
the grounds for the determination of unsuitability as
follows: "Based on Taunton Police Report 17001026, ... I
find from reliable and credible information that you have
exhibited or engaged in behavior that created a risk to
public safety by leaving your firearm unsecured in your
vehicle and having your grandson remove it from the
to reinstate his license, Caras filed a complaint for
judicial review in the District Court under G. L. c. 140,
§ 131 (f) . A nonevidentiary
hearing was held on April 6, 2017. Caras supplemented the
record with letters from friends and neighbors vouching for
his character and integrity. After reviewing the evidence,
and relying on Caras's responsible action in reporting
the theft of his gun, the judge determined that the
chief's unsuitability finding was unreasonable:
"[T]his [c]ourt cannot find, under the circumstances of
this case that a single error in judgment should or must
define Mr. Caras. There is no evidence that the index
incident was anything more than an aberration after almost
fifty (50) years of safe gun ownership. As a result, this
[c]ourt cannot find that existing factors suggest that, ...