Overview of Massachusetts
Massachusetts requires all gun owners to be
licensed. There are three types of licenses, based on the type of gun to be
Residents must have an FID in order to purchase,
possess, or transport a rifle or shotgun that is not a large-capacity gun; to
purchase or possess ammunition or component parts of ammunition; and to purchase
or possess defense sprays.
License to Carry Firearms
Residents must have a License to Carry Firearms in
order to purchase, possess or transport a handgun, large capacity rifle, or
large-capacity shotgun. The License to Carry Firearms also authorizes a person
to purchase, possess, or transport all guns and materials that would be covered
by an FID.
The law exempts new residents from state licensing
requirements for 60 days. However, one may not transport any firearm, rifle or
shotgun during that 60-day period, as the exemption is only for possession in
the home while applying for the necessary license(s).
Sale And Purchase Registration
Since 1968, Massachusetts has had its own
registration requirements, in addition to federal requirements. An individual
may sell a firearm, rifle or shotgun to a person (other than a licensed dealer)
who is properly licensed. The resident must report the sale to the Executive Director
of the Criminal History Systems Board on a special form within seven
days, in writing. Any resident who buys or obtains a firearm, rifle, shotgun or
machine gun from a source other than from a Massachusetts dealer either in or
outside the commonwealth must report the purchase of that gun. To obtain an
FA-10 form, call (617) 660-4780.
The registration process only applies to the
transfer of firearms to or from Massachusetts residents. Citizens moving
into the Commonwealth with previously owned firearms need not register the
firearms; however, the individual must still obtain the proper firearms license.
The law requires guns to be stored in a specific
manner. All guns, including machine guns, must be stored or kept in a
"locked container or with a tamper resistant mechanical locking
device" to prevent unauthorized use.
The law specifies how certain types of guns are to
The state has enacted specific requirements for
carrying a rifle or shotgun on the person on a public way:
- Handguns under a Class A License: "No
person carrying a loaded firearm (i.e. handgun) under a Class A License to
carry firearms... shall carry the same in a vehicle unless such firearm
while carried therein is under the direct control of such person."
- Handguns on a Class B License: "No
person carrying a firearm under a Class B license to carry firearms... shall
possess the same unless such weapon is unloaded and contained within the
locked trunk of such vehicle or in a locked case or other secure
- Large Capacity rifles and shotguns: "No
person possessing a large capacity rifle or shotgun under a Class A or Class
B License... shall possess the same in a vehicle unless such weapon is
unloaded, and contained within the locked trunk of such vehicle or in a
locked case or other secure container.
Exceptions: The provisions of these sections do
not apply to
- Loaded guns: Except as exempted or provided
by law, no person shall carry on his person a loaded rifle or shotgun on a
public way (see exemptions below).
- Unloaded guns: Except as exempted or
provided by law, no person shall carry on his person on any public way an
unloaded rifle or shotgun unless such rifle or shotgun is enclosed in a
case. This subsection "does not apply to drills, parades, military
reenactments or other commemorative ceremonies, color guards or memorial
service firing squads, so called, as permitted by law."
If you move or change addresses, the law requires
you to notify certain authorities. A holder of a firearms identification card or
license to carry firearms shall notify the following in writing by certified
mail within 30 days, of any change in his or her address:
- any officer, agent or employee of the
commonwealth or any other state, or the United States
- any member of the military or other service
of any state or the United States, including national guard, reserves and
junior reserve officer training corps
- any law enforcement officer, agent or
employee of any municipality of the commonwealth, if the persons described
are authorized by a competent authority to so carry a loaded or unloaded
rifle or shotgun on a public way and such person is acting within the scope
of his duties or training, or
- a person who is lawfully engaged in hunting
and is the holder of a valid hunting or sporting license.
- the licensing authority who issued the card
- the Chief of Police into whose jurisdiction
the card or license holder moved; and
- the Executive Director of the Criminal History
Failure to so notify these authorities is cause
for revocation or suspension of the card or license.
Replacing a lost or stolen FID/LTC card.
Thanks to the hard work of GOAL and our members there is no fee to have a lost or stolen card replaced. Click here to download a pdf with information and instructions.
Machine Gun License
A license to possess or carry a machine gun may be
issued to a firearm instructor certified by the Criminal Justice Training Council
for the sole purpose of firearm instruction to police personnel, or to a bona
fide collector of firearms upon application or renewal of such license.
A "bona fide collector of firearms," for the purpose of issuance of a
machine gun license, shall be defined as an individual who acquires firearms for
such lawful purposes as historical significance, display, research, lecturing,
demonstration, test firing, investment or other like purpose. For the
purpose of issuance of a machine gun license the acquisition of firearms for
sporting use or for use as an offensive or defensive weapon shall not qualify an
applicant as a bona fide collector of firearms. An individual licensed
pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44, Sections 921-929 and 27 CFR part 178 shall be
deemed a bona fide collector of firearms for the purpose of this regulation.
Reporting Loss, Theft Or Recovery
Massachusetts gun owners are required to report
loss, theft or recovery of a gun to the state. To obtain an FA-10 form, call
Massachusetts requires a state license for
Massachusetts law covers many other areas, too numerous to mention in this brief
review. For example, the following actions are prohibited:
- discharging a gun within 150 feet of a state
or hard-surfaced road or highway [Chapter 131, section 58];
- discharging a gun within 500 feet of a
building or dwelling in use without the permission of the resident;
- selling a gun to a minor;
- providing a handgun to a minor;
- selling a gun to unlicensed persons;
- trespassing on posted land with guns;
- possession of an air rifle by a minor
(unless in the presence of an adult) without a special permit; and
- possession on any school grounds without
prior written permission.
You may wish to seek written information on gun
laws from the Criminal History Systems Board, at 200 Arlington Street, Suite
2200, Chelsea, MA 02150, (617) 660-4780
For information on hunting with guns, contact
the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife at (508) 792-7270.
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