Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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...Ratification, Bill of Rights and Other Amendments
The 1787 Constitution lacked a Bill of Rights. Few except Madison himself were opposed to adding one, but many other delegates would have failed election without promising it. Negotiations at the Convention had proved so excitingly innovative that time ran out before the Convention had to adjourn with only a promise of a Bill of Rights, first thing. Almost immediately, political America was thrown into a year of state ratification conventions. Massachusetts initiated the concept of ratifying the Constitution, attached with eight or nine amendment proposals for the Bill of Rights. When the First Congress finally convened, it faced almost two hundred proposed amendments, and Madison made sure he was chairman of a committee to deal with them. Practically alone he pared them down to a succinct twelve which survived as the first order of business of the new Congress. Almost unnoticed, he made a deal with Oliver Ellsworth the leader of the Senate, to pass the Bill of Rights in exchange for passing the Senate's Judiciary Act in the House of Representatives. Out of this combined beginning, the power and scope of the Judiciary Branch was born. But while that is a subject for later chapters, Madison never achieved a more skillful moment in his political life, than this pivotal one.

Boston firearms license

This is the process I went through in October-November 2012 to get a Boston firearms license.

  1. Call (617) 343-4425 to make an appointment; usually a month's wait.
  2. On the application appointment date, you go to 1199 Tremont St, Boston MA (Boston Police Headquarters)
    1. Birth Certificate
    2. MA Driver's license showing Boston address
    3. MA State Police Gun Safety training certificate
    4. $100 in cash (no credit cards!)
{top quote}
A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. {bottom quote}
Constitution of the United States

The process at Police Headquarters is straightforward: arrive 15 minutes early to fill in paperwork and be out an hour later after answering simple, obvious questions and getting photographed and fingerprinted.

I was told that the default is a restriction to Target and Sport; a letter showing a business or personal need for an unrestricted license is required after the initial restricted license is received.

My appointment at the Moon Island outdoor range was set for a week later. (It's an island in the harbor off Quincy.)

The qualifying shoot at the Moon Island outdoor range was easy:

  1. We got a very helpful lecture from a Police Dept. instructor, covering both shooting and safety
  2. At the outdoor range:
    1. 12 rounds at  7 yards: two hands, double action (one hand optional)
    2. 18 rounds at 15 yards: two hands, single action (hammer to be pulled with the supporting-hand thumb)

I got a 296 out of 300 (two 9's, one 8). I did well because of the 3 private lessons I took at the Mass Firearms School range where I shot two boxes each time using their 0.38 revolver (the equipment provided at the Moon Island range was brand new, much easier to use and more accurate so I was very well prepared). All the other scores were lower than mine, one person out of six failed.

I was told my license would take 12 weeks to process; I received my Class A Large Capacity License to Carry Firearms, restricted to target and hunting, 51 days (7 1/2 weeks) after my qualifying shoot.


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