BOSTON (CBS) - As the gun control debate rages nationally, the I-Team dug into Massachusetts data to find out which towns have the most active licenses and which towns deny the most gun license applications.
Massachusetts has some of the toughest gun laws in the country. State law gives local police chiefs wide discretion to deny licenses. And the data shows chiefs do use that discretion.
There are nearly 400,000 active gun licenses in Massachusetts. Boston has the most with 8,126. Springfield, Worcester, Plymouth, Westfield, Taunton, Chicopee, Haverhill, Barnstable and New Bedford round out the top 10.
But thousands of license applications are denied by local police departments. Data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety shows nearly 11,000 requests have been rejected over the last decade.
Again, most rejections are in Boston. They've denied 468 licenses. Plymouth, Worcester, Lowell, Methuen, Revere and Brockton police departments have all denied more than 200 licenses during that time period. Others in the top 10 include Barnstable, Quincy and Monson.
Quincy has roughly 3,400 active gun licenses. Over the past decade they've rejected 162 applications. Captain John Dougan says they don't stand in the way of law abiding citizens who want to own a gun. However, they do check criminal history and current pending charges.
"We reject them for a variety of reasons. If you're convicted of a felony, if you lied on the application, domestic violence," Dougan explained.
He believes Massachusetts' system of gun control works. "What is good about having the local police chief give permits out is he knows the community, he knows the people who live there," Dougan said.
Norwood Police Chief Bill Brooks agrees. He says police chiefs can also look at cases that may have been dismissed. If there's a pattern of violence or recklessness, they can also deny a permit.
A person denied has the right to appeal.
As for the hot button issue of people on the terror watch list buying weapons, Brooks says Massachusetts chiefs will get information through a national background check if the person is currently on the list. They get no information about those who have previously been the subject of terror investigations.
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