OVERVIEW OF MASSACHUSETTS FIREARM LAWS
Massachusetts requires all gun owners to be licensed. There are three types of licenses, based on the type of gun to be possessed:
- the Firearms Identification Card (FID)
- the License to Carry Firearms (LTC A)
- a permit for fully automatic firearms. (Class 3 or “Green Card)
- What can I own/possess with each license?
- Click here to download a MA FID/LTC/Class 3 application.
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 for anyone age 15-17, a license is not required for 18+
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). See our new residents info page here.
Recording A Sales Transaction – Transfer Of A Firearm
Since 1968, Massachusetts has had its own requirements for recording a transfer of a firearm, which are 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 Justice Information Services via use of the Massachusetts Gun Transaction Portal (also known as an e-FA10.)
The registration process only applies to the transfer of firearms to or from Massachusetts residents. Citizens moving into the Commonwealth with previously owned guns need not register them; 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.
TRANSPORTING IN A VEHICLE:
The law specifies how certain types of guns are to be transported.
- 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.” (Chapter 140, section 131C)
- 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 container.” (Chapter 140, section 131C)
- 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.” (Chapter 140, section 131C)
- Rifles and Shotguns: “No person.. shall have in his possession or under his control in or on any vehicle or aircraft a loaded shotgun or rifle.. Chapter 131, section 63
Carrying Rifles Or Shotguns on A Public Way
The state has enacted specific requirements for carrying a rifle or shotgun on the person on a public way:
- 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.”
Exceptions: The provisions of these sections do not apply to
- 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.
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:
- the licensing authority who issued the card or license;
- the Chief of Police into whose jurisdiction the card or license holder moved; and
- the Executive Director of the Criminal History Systems Board.
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.3¾4For 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.3¾4An 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.
Massachusetts gun owners are required to report loss, theft or recovery of a gun to the state and local police department. To obtain an FA-10 form, call (617) 660-4780, check with your police department, or clck here for the online version.
Chapter 284 change:
GOAL was succesful in adding language which prevents a licensing authority from finding a licensee “unstuitable” upon reporting a lost/stolen firearm. This exemption is only good once. If a licensee loses or has any additional firearms lost/stolen they can be found “unsuitable” by the licensing authority.
Upon renewal of LTC/FID a licensee must also fill out an affidavit confirming that he/she has not lost any firearms since the last renewal.
Massachusetts requires a state license for firearms dealers.
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;
- 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 Justice Information Services, 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.