Massachusetts firearms laws are among the most stringent firearms laws in the United States. Massachusetts does not recognize reciprocity with any other states regarding a license to lawfully carry a firearm. This means, unless you are driving through the Commonwealth from one state to another and following certain travel requirements, or unless you are entering Massachusetts and qualify for one of its specific exemptions, you may face a mandatory minimum sentence of 18 months in the house of corrections for unlawfully possessing a firearm.
What are Firearm & Weapon Offenses?
The Second Amendment right to bear arms is not without limitation. A complex web of state and federal laws exists regulating the possession and use of firearms.
Some laws restrict the type of firearms that one may possession, while others place limitations on magazine capacity or the number of bullets that a particular firearm may hold at one time.
Federal firearms laws apply uniformly throughout the country, while state laws vary from state to state.
Examples of Firearms Law
Examples of firearms law include those banning possession of automatic weapons or in some states, semi-automatic, military-style rifles.
Other examples include magazine capacity limitations of 10 rounds in semi-automatic handguns or pistols and restrictions on the use and possession of certain types of ammunition.
Another example of restrictions related to the modification of firearms such as converting a lawful semi-automatic rifle to automatic rifle or cutting the barrel on a shotgun to a length below the required legal barrel length limit.
Possession of Firearms
Some states ban possession of a firearm outside of your home in absence of a special license often referred to as a license to carry a firearm or concealed carry permit.
Exceptions may apply for transporting unloaded firearms from your home to a designated shooting range or hunting area, or for persons moving from one to state to another who must transport their firearms across state lines from their former state of residence to their new home or state of residence.
Transporting of Firearms
Transporting of firearms, where permissible, is also subject to certain restrictions regarding the precise manner by which firearms must be transported.
Common restrictions require the firearms to be transported in an unloaded condition and stored separately from any ammunition in a locked case or container.
Carrying a loaded firearm on one’s person or inside of a vehicle in the absence of a special license, is often barred by law. This includes both openly carried and concealed loaded weapons.
Discharging a Firearm
Discharging a firearm in an area other than a designated range is also illegal. This includes the obvious condition of firing or discharging a firearm in the direction of others for purposes of inflicting death or bodily harm.
Similarly speaking, it is also against the law to discharge a firearm inside of a dwelling other than a designed indoor firing range, or in a populated or inhabited area such as a neighborhood, public park or similar area, or commercial establishment.
Many laws punish both intentional and accidental discharges under these varying circumstances.
Failure to Comply With Any Gun or Firearms Law
Failure to comply with any gun or firearms law, regulation or restriction may lead to criminal consequences under both state and/or federal law. Some states are more liberal or restrictive than others when it comes to regulating the ownership, possession, carry and use of firearms.
If You Have Been Charged With a Firearms Offense
It is important that you consult with and seek legal representation from an attorney who is familiar with firearms and well-versed in the nuances of firearms law in both state and federal jurisdictions.
Types of Firearm Offenses
- Carrying of a Firearm Without a License Outside Home or Business
- Possession of a Machine Gun or Sawed-Off Shotgun
- Carrying Dangerous Weapons
- Possession of a Firearm without a Firearm Identification Card
- Unlawfully Selling, Giving, or Using a Silencer
- Defacing a Firearm Serial Number or Receiving a Firearm with a Defaced Serial Number
- Possession of Firearm with Defaced Serial Number while Committing a Felony
- Improper Storage of a Firearm
- Unlawful Possession of Large Capacity Weapon or Feeding Device
Basic Information About Massachusetts Firearms Laws
What is a License to Carry “LTC”?
Under Massachusetts criminal law, it is a crime to carry or possess a firearm outside of one’s residence or place of business without having in effect a valid License to Carry (LTC). The rules and regulations governing the requirements of an LTC may be found under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 140, Section 131.
Currently in Massachusetts, what a person is allowed to do or prohibited from doing with a firearm depends on whether the person holds a Class A or Class B License to Carry (LTC).
An LTC authorizes the firearm owner to carry the firearm on his or her person or inside of a vehicle, including a loaded firearm and in a concealed manner. This is known as a Class A License and it entitles an individual to purchase, rent, lease, borrow, possess and carry a firearm, including large capacity firearms, feeding devices, rifles, shotguns and ammunition.
A Class B License entitles an individual to purchase, rent, lease, borrow, possess and carry a firearm, rifles, shotguns and ammunition. However, a Class B license does not entitle the person to carry or possess a loaded firearm on his person in a concealed manner or to possess a large capacity firearm. A Class B LTC holder may also not possess a firearm in a vehicle unless the weapon is unloaded and contained within the locked trunk of the vehicle or in a locked case or other secure container.
Lastly neither, a Class A or Class B license holder, who possesses a large capacity rifle or shotgun may possess such weapon in a vehicle unless it is unloaded and contained within the locked trunk of such vehicle or in a locked case or other secure container.
What is a Firearms Identification Card “FID”?
Under Massachusetts criminal law, it is unlawful to possess, purchase or carry a non-large capacity rifle or shotgun and ammunition for such unless you have been issued a firearm identification card (FID) by the licensing authority. An FID Card is valid for not more than 6 years from the date of issuance. The rules and regulations governing the requirements of an FID Card may be found at Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 140, Section 129B and Section 129C.
In Massachusetts, any person residing or having a place of business in the Commonwealth may apply for an FID Card, so long as the person is not a prohibited person. When a person has a valid FID Card, it gives the person the right to purchase as well as possess a non-large capacity rifle or shotgun and ammunition for such within his residence or place of business. An FID Card does not entitle a person to possess a large capacity firearm or large capacity feeding device, whether a handgun or rifle.
An individual may also possess or own a handgun such as a pistol or revolver, if the person has an FID Card along with a valid Permit to Purchase the specific handgun in question. The rules and regulations governing ownership, possession or purchase of firearms, rifles, and shotguns with an FID Card may be found under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 140, Section 131E.
Exempt Persons from the LTC and FID Card Requirements?
Massachusetts law contains several exemptions that authorize a person present in the Commonwealth to possess a firearm and/or ammunition without a valid Massachusetts License to Carry or Firearm Identification Card. A few examples found under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 140, Section 129C(a)-(u) and are listed individually below:
- Possession of rifles, shotguns and related ammunition by nonresident hunters who have a valid hunting license from their own state;
- Possession of rifles, shotguns and related ammunition by nonresidents while on a firing or shooting range;
- Possession of rifles, shotguns and related ammunition by nonresidents traveling in or through the Commonwealth, providing that any rifles or shotguns are unloaded and enclosed in a case;
- Possession of rifles and shotguns by nonresidents while at a firearm showing or display organized by a regularly existing gun collectors’ club or association;
- Any resident of the Commonwealth returning after having been absent from the Commonwealth for not less than 180 consecutive days or any new resident moving into the Commonwealth, with respect to any firearm, rifle, shotgun and any related ammunition, for 60 days after such return or entry into Massachusetts;
- Carrying or possession by residents or nonresidents of so-called black powder rifles, shotguns, and ammunition;
- Carrying or possession of conventional rifles, shotguns, and related ammunition by nonresidents who meet the requirements for such carrying or possession in the state in which they reside; and
- Any nonresident who is eighteen years of age or older at the time of acquiring a rifle or shotgun from a licensed firearms dealer; provided, however, that such nonresident must hold a valid firearms license from his state of residence.
Who is Prohibited from Obtaining a License to Carry (LTC) or Firearm Identification Card (FID) in Massachusetts?
There are certain individuals who are prohibited from obtaining a License to Carry (LTC) and/or a Firearm Identification (FID) Card in Massachusetts. Under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 140, Section 131(d)(i)-(x) and Section 129B(1)(i)-(xi), the following persons are prohibited:
- Any person convicted in any jurisdiction of: a felony, a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for more than 2 years, a violent crime, a violation of any law regulating the use, possession, ownership, transfer, purchase, sale, lease, rental, receipt or transportation of weapons or ammunition for which a term of imprisonment may be imposed; a violation of any law regulating the use, possession or sale of a controlled substance; or a federal misdemeanor crime of domestic violence;
- Persons who have been civilly committed for certain mental health problems or alcohol and/or drug abuse;
- Any person younger than age 21;
- Any person who is an alien and does not maintain lawful permanent residency;
- Any person who is subject to any type of Abuse Prevention Order by a court;
- Any person who is currently the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant in any state or federal jurisdiction;
- Any person who has been discharged from the armed forces of the United States under dishonorable conditions;
- Any person who is a fugitive from justice; and
- Any person having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced that citizenship.
Temporarily Carrying or Possessing a Firearm by a Non-Resident?
A nonresident of Massachsuetts may apply for a Temporary License to Carry a firearm in the Commonwealth for the purpose of attending a firearms competition so long as he is not a person prohibited by law from obtaining a License to Carry (LTC). The temporary license, if granted, will expire within 1 year of the date it was obtained. The law regarding the temporary license may be found at Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 140, Section 131F.
In addition, a nonresident of Massachusetts may also carry a pistol or revolver in or through the Commonwealth for the purpose of taking part in a pistol or revolver competition or attending any meeting or exhibition of any organized group of firearm collectors or for the purpose of hunting so long as they have a valid license to carry from their state of residence and if traveling through or in for hunting, a valid license to hunt in Massachusetts or their destination state. This provision may be found at Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 140, Section 131G.
If you have been charged with a firearms offense in Massachusetts and need the Best Criminal Defense Lawyers call (508) 213-9113 to schedule your free consultation with the Law Office of John L. Calcagni III.