Dedham - Misuse of Authority!

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Feb 26, 2005
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Atty Jesse Cohen pointed me to this article on a case he's involved in. It's infuriating!

Sticking to their guns
By Kit Kadlec / Daily News Staff
Monday, May 9, 2005

DEDHAM -- On an April afternoon seven years ago, Joseph Landers walked out of the M&M Food Shoppe on High Street with a sub sandwich in one hand, a pizza in another, and a stainless steel handgun holstered on his shoulder underneath his coat.

To Landers, a then 49-year-old retired machinist, it was just a normal day in which he planned have lunch with his father at home. The gun was something he carried regularly for protection.

But the trip to pick up lunch turned out to be his last as a licensed gun holder in Massachusetts.

Landers' coat was not entirely zipped up that day, and when the wind blew it open, a Dedham Police officer across the street zoomed in and noticed the gun. Upon request by the officer, Landers produced a valid five-year license issued in 1995 to carry the gun. But the problem was, state law required that he keep the weapon concealed.

While the officer let Landers go without an arrest, the Adams Street resident soon after received notice from Dedham Police Chief Dennis Teehan that his Class A license to carry firearms had been revoked due to the incident.

Landers, a Vietnam veteran with no criminal record, said he was crushed by the letter, which he saw as an attack on his credibility. After serving as a Navy engineer on a submarine from 1966-1971, he'd always been interested in collecting historical war artifacts such as guns, uniforms and other items. Landers said he never planned to use his gun and he was not risking public safety by carrying the weapon on his person.

But Teehan saw things different. The chief said he was "troubled" by the 1998 incident in which an officer spotted the handgun on Landers and resulted in a "negative" police report.

"I have always erred on the side of caution when issuing a license to carry firearms," Teehan said in a 2001 letter reaffirming his denial. "For this reason, I find it necessary to deny your request for a license to carry."

Teehan did not return calls last week inquiring about the case.

Landers has not given up. And he has new hope with an appeal made by his latest attorney, Jesse Cohen of Framingham. Cohen, who took on the case last year, said he plans to file an appeal to the latest denial by Teehan by July.

While Teehan suggests in his letter that he sees this as a public safety issue, Cohen sees the case as a police chief overstepping his bounds.

"People need to know what (Teehan) did to Joe," Cohen said. "For the past seven years, Joe's been denied what he loves. This has been tremendously difficult for him psychologically to deal with."

By denying a license to carry, Teehan has also limited the types of weapons Landers can hold in his vast historical collection. That's what bothers Landers the most.

Whereas Landers still has pistols and rifles from the Civil War and other 1800's conflicts, he cannot possess 20th century weapons such as the W.W. II model M-1 carbine. To even possess such weapons in his home for display, Landers needs the Class A license to carry firearms, but all he has right now is a Firearm Identification, or FID, card, a more basic license that does not allow "large capacity" cartridge guns like the M-1 carbine.

Guns that can hold more than 10 bullets or five shotgun shells are not covered by an FID card. So after Teehan's ruling, Landers had to sell some of his historic guns such as a 1908 Luger and Colt 1911.

"This has just made it so difficult for me to be a good historical collector," Landers said.

Still living in his boyhood home, the 56-year-Landers has his rooms stocked with historical pictures, clothing and weaponry. The stairway leading to his second floor has cannonballs on the steps; there are Navy and Army uniforms hung up on mannequins in bedrooms and hundreds of books on wars.

Speaking at a rapid speed and jumping from topic to topic, Landers can talk for hours about his collection. He picks up a Civil War rifle, then a pair of German World War II binoculars.

For him, Landers said the guns are only part of his collection, and not something he is truly interested anymore for protection. "I could care less about carrying a weapon, my goal is to keep my collection," he said.

Cohen said he's tried to work that out with Teehan, to offer a conditioned license solely for historical purposes and that would prohibit Landers from carrying his guns on the street anymore. But that has been denied, Cohen said.

"It's just so unnecessary," said Cohen. "If this had been any other chief, this never would have happened."

Cohen, who has defended hundreds of clients in gun possession cases throughout the past five years, said he's never had anything like Landers' case. In some recent cases, Cohen said, his clients have been charged with drunken driving while holding a firearm, or one shot at the house of his neighbor.

But Cohen said he cannot believe why Teehan would feel Landers is no longer suitable to carry a weapon.

Teehan plans to retire later this year, but rather than wait and see if his replacement is more lenient, Landers wants to win the case in court. He said it's about his dignity.

"This is a form of slander, an attack on my credibility," Landers said.

He already has the backing of state Rep. Bob Coughlin, D-Dedham, who wrote a letter supporting Landers in 2004 to get his license back.

"My experience with Mr. Landers is that he is a delightful gentleman who possesses an outstanding character and ethic," Coughlin said.

( Kit Kadlec can be reached at 781-433-8336 or [email protected]. )
Just add it to the list of Chiefs who further their own political agendas. Another poster child for the cause of taking this power from them.
I would love to see what cities and towns pay per annum in this state to defend assinine decissions made by chiefs in issuing firearms licenses.
KMaurer said:
Oh, come on. It's not as if it's their money.

That's the point, Ken. Let the residents of Deham see just what it's going to cost THEM to defend this Bozo on this losing case. No where in the article does say "This lawsuit will cost taxpayers X ammoutn of dollars". Not that I'd expect the newspaper to do that anyways.
If I'm not mistaken, firearm owners made a huge stink in the town of Carver. The chief had other "problems" as well as harassing gun owners but they played a major role in her being on the HOT seat and ultimate "retirement" (read removal).
holy thread revival batman!

this article makes me angry, that polic chief is a douche.

i hope the guy got an LTC, whether it be within that city or another he may have moved to.
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