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Framingham police say employee fired over improper gun permits

By Kathleen Burge
Globe Staff / March 4, 2010

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FRAMINGHAM - A Framingham police employee was fired last week after allegedly bending the rules for people seeking gun licenses - largely members of the armed services - by issuing licenses without authorization, upgrading licenses, and providing false addresses for applicants.

Police did not provide the former employee’s name, but Kelly McKinstry, a 24-year department employee, said in a brief interview yesterday that she had been fired but didn’t think she had done anything wrong.

Police said they found 44 licenses the former employee had issued improperly, including three for machine guns. Police suspended the licenses and confiscated the guns of those people who wrongly received licenses.

Framingham police said they, the Middlesex district attorney’s office, and the Navy are investigating whether criminal charges should be brought against the former employee or any of the applicants.

“I honestly don’t think I did anything wrong,’’ McKinstry said at her Framingham house yesterday, but she declined to discuss her dismissal further.

“This whole thing has been blown out of proportion,’’ said a man at her house who identified himself as her brother. “She didn’t do it for money. She made a mistake. She was fired.’’

“It should have ended right there,’’ added McKinstry, who said she does not have a lawyer.

McKinstry, a civilian employee, was still listed on the Framingham Police Department online directory yesterday as an administrative assistant to the police prosecutor. The website lauds McKinstry’s “tireless efforts’’ in helping the police prosecutor do his job.

Police said they began an investigation Feb. 3 when a lieutenant in the licensing bureau noticed that two gun licenses he had approved as Class D - for pepper spray only - had been entered in the state database as Class A, for large-capacity firearms, including semiautomatic weapons and assault weapons. The lieutenant also found other licenses that had been improperly upgraded or issued.

“The employee’s conduct here amounted to a serious breach of the public trust,’’ Police Chief Steven Carl said in a statement. Carl didn’t return phone calls.

Those who received licenses improperly would have qualified for licenses if they had listed an accurate local address, taken a firearms training course, and paid the required fee, police said.

No one given a license improperly used the license to buy a machine gun, police said.

Nearly all of the licenses were issued to members of the armed services, though police did not say why they believed that was.

Kathleen Burge can be reached at kburge@globe.com.

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