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Lowell To Require Essays For Unrestricted Gun Licenses

LOWELL (CBS) -- The majority of gun licenses issued in the city of Lowell are restricted, meaning owners can have the weapons only at a shooting range or hunting.

But police say they are responding to increasing requests for unrestricted gun licenses, which have been nearly impossible to obtain for more than thirty years, and allow owners to carry their guns on them outside their home.

"We wanted to make sure we allowed people to exercise their constitutional right to carry a firearm, but do it with a balanced, reasonable approach," said police Superintendent William Taylor.

To obtain an unrestricted gun license, owners will now have to write an essay to the Superintendent, obtain recommendations and take an additional safety course. "I don't think there's anything new in the policy that can't be accomplished," said Taylor.

Lowell Police insist the changes are meant to open up a pathway to more unrestricted licenses. Licensed owner Terry Emond says it feels a bit like high school, but thinks an essay is a reasonable approach. "Any policeman doing a gun license, if they feel by doing an essay they get to know the person better, I'm all for it," she said.

In fact, police say the essay is optional but would help the applicant. Superintendent Taylor says the climate around violence in the community has increased the call for unrestricted gun licenses and Terry Emond has her reasons. "I'd just say I'd like a license to carry for home protection."

Critics say the changes only open up a strict pathway to gun licenses.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Bernice Corpuz reports

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