State Superior Court Judge John Pursel ruled last year that Salvatore Atanasio Jr. could carry a gun when operating a ship or at port and dock facilities. In his ruling, Pursel cited the post- Sept. 11 world of terrorist threats and increased threat levels in the national terrorist alert system as part of the reason for his decision.His attorney has argued that his is a special case:
The state Attorney General's office filed an appeal, and last month the state's appeals court overturned Pursel's decision. The court said that if a ship captain could carry a hidden handgun, then every flight attendant, bus driver and truck driver carrying hazardous materials would be able to, as well.
"This is a gentleman who, just like an airline pilot, transports hundreds and sometimes thousands of people aboard his vessels," said Lee March Grayson, an attorney in Randolph. "These are big vessels and, just like airline pilots, he ought to be permitted that right to carry a handgun. Not only for the protection of the crew and the passengers, but for the vessel itself..."We're talking about a ship that can literally carry more than half the people who were killed in the Sept. 11 incident in the city," Grayson said. "These are huge ships. We're not talking a little 28-foot cabin cruiser; these are huge ships, massive tonnage that could do a lot of damage if they were commandeered.""