Massachusetts Gun Laws

Massachusetts Gun Law Details

Every state has the right to pass their own gun laws. Within every state, each separate town or city can also enact specific firearm restrictions. Several city ordinances against gun ownership have made their way to the Supreme Court. Most notably the gun laws in Chicago and Washington, D.C. were struck down by the Court in favor of gun ownership. Among the states, Massachusetts is considered to have some of the toughest regulations with regard to firearm purchases and possession. To own or purchase any type of firearms in Massachusetts you must first obtain the proper license.

Massachusetts LawsMassachusetts is officially known as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is located in the New England area of the United States. Rhode Island and Connecticut border it to the south, with Vermont and New Hampshire bordering on the north. New York borders on the west, and the Atlantic Ocean borders on the east. Massachusetts has a rich history; Plymouth Colony was formed on its lands. It was also home to the Salem Witch Trials. Open carry is legal in Massachusetts with a valid license to carry, but is frowned upon by local authorities.

Types of Massachusetts Firearm Licenses

Restricted Firearm Identification License or RFID. This license pertains to carrying non-lethal types of defensive weapons such as pepper spray or mace. In Massachusetts these are considered firearms and you need a license to own them.

Firearms ID or FID

This license is needed to own or buy long rifles and mace or pepper spray.

Class A

This type of license is required for anyone who buys or owns any type of gun that can hold more then ten rounds. You will also need a Class A license to obtain a concealed carry permit. With a Class A license you can carry a loaded handgun. The Class A license is issued by the Chief of Police in the particular town where you reside. These restrictions can also vary from town to town.

Class B

This license applies to firearms that hold up to less then ten rounds. It also restricts the owner from carrying a concealed loaded weapon. And any time the weapon is being transported is has to be locked up and out of reach and ammunition.

Machine Gun

This license is specifically needed for machine gun ownership or purchase.

Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

Massachusetts generally prohibits carrying firearms in vehicles without a permit. Handguns may not be carried in vehicles without a permit. Long guns may only be carried without a permit if they are unloaded and secured in a locked container. Large Capacity Weapons may only be carried if they are unloaded and contained within the locked trunk of the vehicle or in a locked case or other secure container.

Self-defense Laws

Massachusetts has a Castle Doctrine but no SYG law. There is no duty to retreat when in Your home or place of business. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, or against an unlawful intruder into Your dwelling if You reasonably believe the intruder is about to inflict death or SBI to a lawful occupant of the dwelling.

Open Carry

You are allowed to carry handguns openly. An individual with a Class A unrestricted license to carry firearms (LTC-A) does not have to conceal a handgun in public. In 2013, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the holder of a LTC-A license is not responsible for alarm caused by licensed carry of a handgun, and that a permit cannot be revoked for suitability purposes under these circumstances. If police demand to see the permit, it must be produced. Failure to produce a LTC upon demand by a LEO is probable cause for arrest. Open carry of long guns is prohibited, except while hunting.

Carry in Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

Yes. Massachusetts has no laws prohibiting the carrying of firearms in restaurants that serve alcohol. You can carry in a restaurant that serves alcohol. Places like Fridays or Chili’s unless they have a “No Gun Sign,” then it is suggested that You not carry into the establishment. This does not include a bar or the bar area of a restaurant. You can carry Your firearm into a restaurant that serves alcohol, but You are prohibited from consuming alcohol while carrying a firearm.

Massachusetts Firearm License Restrictions

There are several restrictions in place that can prevent a Massachusetts resident from obtaining a firearm license of any class. These include any type of conviction as an adult or juvenile which would be deemed to disqualify you from owning a firearm such as felonies or prior gun offenses

If the person has ever been confined for a mental illness or for treatment of drug or alcohol abuses they can be restricted from a firearm license. The same restrictions applies to any fugitive from justice, a person who has an order of protection signed against them or a non-resident.

High Capacity Magazine Ban

Massachusetts bans the sale, transfer, and possession of high-capacity magazines unless they were legally owned on or before 9/13/94, and You have a class A or class B license. High-capacity magazines are defined as those capable of holding more than ten (10) rounds or more than five (5) shotgun shells. Internal tube/helical magazines for .22 firearms are not considered high-capacity magazines, even if capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

Assault Weapons Ban

Massachusetts bans the sale, transfer, and possession of assault weapons, unless they were legally possessed before 7/13/94.

“Large Capacity Weapons” are more available than “Assault Weapons” and may still be manufactured, sold, and owned, but they require a Class A license to obtain, and there are additional regulations governing how You may transport them.

Non-Resident Firearm Laws

If you are a non-resident of Massachusetts you are allowed to be in possession of a firearm when hunting if you have a proper hunting license or if you are at a shooting range. You are also allowed to transport that firearm through the state if it is unloaded and secured in a carrying case.

Additional Massachusetts Firearm Restrictions

It is against the law in Massachusetts to fire a gun within 500 feet of a building unless you have the consent of the owner, the building is a type of fire range or you are using your gun in defense. If you are in possession of a firearm, you are required to provide your appropriate license to any law officer upon demand. Failure to do so can mean having your firearm confiscated. Massachusetts requires that all firearms be kept locked up unless they are in direct control of the licensed owner of the weapon.

Universal Background checks

Massachusetts requires background checks be conducted on all sales of firearms, even between private parties.

Reciprocal Carry

Massachusetts does not recognize another state’s license to carry. A permit is required in order to purchase a firearm, and You must pass a background check to obtain this permit. A nonresident may apply for a temporary license:

“A Class A or Class B temporary license to carry firearms or feeding devices or ammunition therefor, within the commonwealth, may be issued by the colonel of state police, or persons authorized by him, to a nonresident or any person not falling within the jurisdiction of a local licensing authority or to an alien that resides outside the commonwealth for purposes of firearms competition and subject to such terms and conditions as said colonel may deem proper” []

Class A and Class B licenses are defined as:

“A Class A license shall entitle a holder thereof to purchase, rent, lease, borrow, possess and carry: (i) firearms, including large capacity firearms, and feeding devices and ammunition therefor, for all lawful purposes… and (ii) rifles and shotguns, including large capacity weapons, and feeding devices and ammunition therefor”; And

“A Class B license shall entitle a holder thereof to purchase, rent, lease, borrow, possess and carry: (i) non-large capacity firearms and feeding devices and ammunition therefor”

Criminal Provisions

Under Massachusetts law, a license to carry a handgun is not valid in any of the following places or circumstances:

  • Class B licensee cannot carry a concealed and loaded firearm in a public place, or possess a firearm as defined by the Class A license statute
  • While under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, narcotic drugs, depressants, stimulant substances, or the vapors of glue
  • One may not discharge a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling or other building in use, except with the consent of the owner or legal occupant
  • While carrying a concealed weapon, one cannot occupy, or attempt to enter or occupy, a secure area of an airport or the cabin of an airplane
  • On 3/21/16 the Supreme Court unanimously struck down MA’s ban on stun guns as a violation of the Second Amendment. Stun guns are now legal in MA.

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