As statewide debate roils over proposed gun law changes we asked Swampscott Police Chief Ron Madigan about his role under existing legislation.
That legislation gives police chiefs in Massachusetts latitude deciding who gets a gun license, the most common of which allows people to own a gun and carry a concealed weapon.
The license must be renewed every six years.
The police chief said he fulfills his duty by issuing licenses to suitable applicants.
"I try to do a thoughtful job," he said.
To decide suitability he reviews their past including any mental health history, any arrest and criminal record, or any restraining order filed against them, the police chief said.
The law allows applicants to appeal his decision in court.
And occassionally, that happens, he said.
Meanwhile, the governor introduced legislation last week that would tighten restrictions on gun and ammunition sales.
And a month ago, a gun owners' group — the Gun Owners’ Action League of Massachusetts — supported legislation that would have done away with the need to renew gun licenses every six years.
In Swampscott, 593 people have the most common gun license — a "Resident Class A Large Capacity License to Carry Firearms."
About 4.3 percent of Swampscott residents have the Class A license.