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What are the Gun Laws in Massachusetts?

A Synopsis of State Laws on Purchase, Possession and Carrying of Firearms

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Class A Or B License

Either a class A or B license shall be valid to possess, purchase, or transfer non-large capacity rifles and shotguns.

Applicants for a card or license must be fingerprinted.

An applicant who did not have a card or license on June 1, 1998, must submit a basic firearms safety certificate approved by the colonel of state police. The card or license is valid for not more than 4 years; the fee and renewal fee is $25; notification of a change of address must be made by certified mail within 30 days of its occurrence to the licensing authority, police chief at the new address, and the executive director of the criminal history systems board.

An applicant for or holder of a card or license may obtain judicial review by filing in district court within 90 days of a denial, revocation, suspension, or failure to act.

The colonel of state police "may" issue a class A or B temporary license to a resident, a nonresident, or an alien for purposes of competition and subject to terms and conditions placed on the license. The license is valid for 1 year and the fee is $50.

Any person who inherits a rifle, shotgun or handgun is required to obtain a FID or license to carry within 180 days if he intends to retain possession of the firearm.

Exemptions from the FID and licensing requirements:

  • The temporary holding or firing of a handgun under the supervision of a person with a license to carry, or the holding or firing of a rifle or shotgun under the supervision of a person with a FID or "where such holding or firing is for a lawful purpose".

  • The use of a rifle or shotgun for hunting or target shooting by a minor under the age of 15, provided he is under the immediate supervision of a person holding a FID or a license to carry.

  • Possession by a chartered veterans organization and possession by their members when on ceremonial duties.

  • Possession by museums, historical societies and institutional collections open to the public, provided such firearms are unloaded and secured.

  • Possession by federally-licensed manufacturers and dealers and their employees when necessary for manufacture, display, storage or testing.

  • Possession by new residents of Mass., residents returning after absences of less than 180 consecutive days, or residents being released from active duty in the armed forces, for sixty days after release, return or entry. However, this exception applies only to firearms in the individual’s possession at the time of release, return or entry. A person may possess but not carry during this 60 day period.

Carry

A Class A license authorizes carrying of handguns, including large capacity handguns, for all lawful purposes, subject to such restrictions relative to the possession, use or carrying of handguns as the licensing authority deems proper, and carrying of rifles and shotguns, including large capacity rifles and shotguns, for all lawful purposes, subject to restrictions imposed by the licensing authority.

A class A license holder may carry a loaded handgun in a vehicle, if it is under his direct control. However, this does not apply to large capacity rifles or shotguns. Such firearms must be carried unloaded, in the locked trunk or in a locked case or other secure container.

A Class B license authorizes carrying of non-large capacity handguns for all lawful purposes, subject to such restrictions relative to the possession, use or carrying of such handguns as the licensing authority deems proper, and carrying of rifles and shotguns, including large capacity rifles and shotguns, for all lawful purposes, subject to restrictions imposed by the licensing authority.

However, a class B license does NOT entitle the holder to carry or possess a loaded firearm in a concealed manner in a public way or place. A class B license holder may not carry a loaded firearm of any type in his vehicle; all firearms must be carried unloaded, in the locked trunk or in a locked case or other secure container. A firearm identification card authorizes its holder to carry non-large capacity rifles and shotguns.

Unlawfully carrying a firearm in a vehicle, or in one’s possession outside one’s residence or place of business, without the required license or card, subjects a person to a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year in jail, or 2 1/2 years in prison. This mandatory sentence does not apply to a person holding a valid card but not the required license.

Rifles and shotguns must be carried unloaded and enclosed in a case on any public way unless engaged in lawful hunting. It is unlawful for any person licensed to carry a handgun to leave the firearm in a vehicle unattended. It is unlawful for a person with a license to carry on the person or in a vehicle a loaded handgun while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.

Non-Residents

A non-resident may possess a rifle or shotgun in Mass.:
  • While hunting and in possession of a valid hunting license.

  • While on a firing or shooting range.

  • While traveling in or through Mass. if the rifle or shotgun is unloaded and enclosed in a case.

  • While at a firearms show organized by a "regularly existing gun collector’s club or association."

  • If he or she has a license or permit to possess any firearm in his or her home state, if its licensing requirements are as stringent as those of Mass., as indicated by a published list of such states promulgated by the colonel of state police.

Temporary Licenses

The colonel of state police may issue a temporary license to carry a handgun to a non-resident, alien, or resident who does not live within the jurisdiction of a local licensing authority.

A temporary license must clearly indicate whether it is a class A or B license. The fee for a temporary license is $50.

Temporary licenses are good for one year, and renewable at the discretion of the colonel of state police. Unlike regular class A and B licenses, temporary licenses may not be used to purchase firearms.

Page 3
- Temporary Licenses Cont.
- Antiques and Replicas
- Machine Guns
- Miscellaneous Provisions

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