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Supreme Judicial Court: No license needed if the gun was made before 1900

Two men who were convicted of gun charges after fleeing from police in Boston in February 2009 got a break today from the state’s highest court – because the gun they allegedly possessed illegally was made before 1900.

Ordering a new trial in the case, the Supreme Judicial Court said state gun licensing laws do not apply to guns manufactured before that year.

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“A person does not need a license to carry a firearm made before 1900,” the court said. The court noted that the Legislature had a valid purpose in making the exemption, “namely to allow individuals to carry antique firearms to Revolutionary War and Civil War reenactments.”

The defendants’ expert had testified, based on the serial number, that the Harrington & Richardson, .32-caliber five-shot revolver that police said was connected to the two men was made in 1896 and was a collectible.

In the future, the court said, if a defendant has evidence that the gun they were charged with possessing illegally was made before 1900, the defendant must tell prosecutors before trial. The burden then rests on prosecutors to prove the gun was made after 1899.

Liquarry C. Jefferson and Leslie Burton-Brown were arrested after they allegedly failed to stop after running a traffic light in Boston. They allegedly led police on a chase, then were arrested. Police later found the gun on the ground, along the route of the chase, and alleged the two men had thrown it from the car.

Authorities said Jefferson is the father of Liquarry A. Jefferson, the 8-year-old who was fatally shot by his cousin in 2007, in a case that gripped the city.

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