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Darius A. Arbabi loves the feel of a good pistol in his hands. After firing 200 rounds at a shooting range, the Framingham solo practitioner said he’s “mentally cleansed.” Fusing his years as an attorney and his affection for firearms to create a niche, Arbabi has become an authority on state and federal gun laws, a known go-to guy for questions on Massachusetts gun laws. “I think he’s particularly knowledgeable about gun charges,” said Lee Hettinger, assistant district attorney for Massachusetts’ Middlesex County. “And he is very aggressive on behalf of his clients.” Hettinger has faced Arbabi in court several times. They are opposed in a pending case in which the defendant is allegedly the middleman in the sale of a pistol from a youth who stole it from his father. Hettinger calls it a “fairly complicated” case. Referring to the state Gun Control Act of 1998, “he absolutely knows what’s going on with it,” Hettinger said. “It’s a very complicated law.” “Darius is the man,” said Framingham, Mass., lawyer George McCarthy, who has been referring firearms cases to Arbabi for years. “He became the guru in certain areas of gun control law.” Arbabi has created a Web site on gun law, which is one reason that a Massachusetts gun owners’ lobbying group sends its members with legal questions to him, said Nancy Snow, who handles referrals for the Gun Owners’ Action League (GOAL) in Northboro. “It’s really sad that we have to have an attorney who specializes in gun laws,” Snow said. “But, we admire his initiative to set up his Web site.” It is at www.geocities.com/darbabi. Much of Arbabi’s firearms law practice comes in waves, he said. “When I represent a lawful gun owner, I help them try and understand the law,” he said. “These are not high-profile cases. Sometimes it’s dealing with obscure questions of firearms law,” said the 42-year-old lawyer. “Massachusetts gun owners are subject to exacting scrutiny,” said Snow. “They are fingerprinted and photographed, subject to rigorous laws on what guns they can buy and how they store, transport and carry them.” The state act has also created new crimes, redefined old ones and toughened the penalties. For example, it redefined the definition of “assault weapon” and added more requirements for the safe storage of guns. Firearms law is a subspecialty of both criminal defense and regulatory law, Arbabi said. The bulk of his practice, he said, is criminal work, 15 percent of which deals specifically with guns. Most of his cases are handled in District and Superior courts in Middlesex County, but he can also be found in Worcester, Suffolk and Essex county courts. Typically, his clients are longtime gun owners who have a felony conviction in their past and, because of changes to Massachusetts’ gun laws, are no longer legally allowed to possess a gun. Under the Gun Control Act of 1998, any past felony, no matter how old, disqualifies a person for a license to own firearms. One client, he said, staved off an effort to take away his gun permit because case files showed that a supposed felony from years ago had been improperly recorded — the case had been continued without a finding. Arbabi said that most of his clients would be surprised to learn that he has a gun and goes to the range. He also has a Class A license that allows him to carry a concealed weapon. His weaponry includes Sig Sauer pistols of .45- and 40-caliber, and a 9-mm. “You need to be low key about carrying a gun,” he said. He said that he rarely carries one unless he is going to the range or to a competition-but sometimes he is armed if he is in a neighborhood that he considers unsafe. He has never had to use a gun to defend himself, he said. Arbabi’s practice includes advising clients on how they can obtain or keep licenses to carry or firearms identification cards. “What I’m talking about is clients who possess a license to carry a firearm and got in a situation where they either had to display or use it,” he said. “As a result, police got involved, made an arrest and filed a range of charges.” Although he is a member of the National Rifle Association, Arbabi refers to the group as “quite extreme and not terribly effective.” He said that GOAL has more success lobbying at the state level than the NRA does at the national level. He donates proceeds from GOAL referrals back to that organization to assist it with lobbying efforts, he said. “To shoot well requires a high degree of concentration,” said Arbabi, who first handled a pistol as a boy at a range at the NRA headquarters, on a visit with his father. “But it is also a nice getaway in the sense that if you are concentrating on your marksmanship and fundamentals, you are not thinking about anything else. You come out mentally cleansed, just from an hour or two on the pistol range.”

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