Massachusetts Gun Control Laws
Massachusetts has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation -- and according to studies also has the third-lowest rate of gun-related deaths in the country.
There are extensive permit and registration requirements to own a firearm in Massachusetts. It is a "may issue" state for concealed carry purposes. The issuing authority is the local police chief for most jurisdictions. There are several different types of concealed carry licenses.
Massachusetts state lawmakers introduced a comprehensive gun-control bill in 2014, largely based on recommendations of a 23-page report he commissioned by the Committee to Reduce Firearm Violence. The legislation is a 50-section bill which touches on everything from limiting who can legally obtain a firearms ID card to gun trafficking, mental health data sharing and gun trafficking.
See the table below for a quick summary of the laws, while a more descriptive version follows. For more general, national information see Gun Laws in FindLaw's Accidents and Injuries section to learn more.
|Code Section||Ch. 269 §§10, et seq.; Ch. 140 §§121, et seq.|
|Illegal Arms||Machine guns or sawed-off shotgun, etc. legal in appropriate circumstances (i.e., place of business, home, etc.-with license); those with serial or ID number removed or altered; silencer|
|Who May Not Own||1. Alien; 2. Convicted felon; 3. Convicted of unlawful use, possession, or sale of drugs or habitual drunkenness; 4. Under 18 yrs. (15-18 with parents' permission); 5. Confined in mental hospital or institution for mental illness; 6. Currently under order to surrender firearms license or ID card|
|Law Prohibiting Firearms On or Near School Grounds||Misdemeanor. 269,10(j)|
Second Amendment Basics
All gun laws must adhere to the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. The language of that amendment reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed".
Those in favor of a broad interpretation of the Second amendment argue that its purpose was to allow private citizens to have firearms for protection against other individuals and against an oppressive government. They argue that any form of gun registration gives the government knowledge of who owns firearms and where they are located; knowledge that an oppressive government can use to take away firearms from the public, and remove their ability to defend themselves against oppression. They also argue that limitations on who can purchase guns removes those individuals' right to protect themselves.
Those in favor of a narrow interpretation of the Second Amendment argue that the purpose was to allow gun ownership in order to participate in a local militia. They also argue that the rate of gun violence around the country requires us to interpret the Second Amendment in a way that reduces the number of guns on the street.
Illegal Firearms in Massachusetts
Certain firearms are illegal for private ownership in Massachusetts, although the police and military may have them. Machine guns and sawed-off shotguns are illegal. Machine guns are firearms that can shoot more than once with a single trigger pull. Sawed-off firearms are long guns that have had the barrel shortened. Firearms that have had the serial number removed are illegal, as well as silencers.
Waiting Period to Purchase Firearms in Massachusetts
Unlike some states, Massachusetts does not have a waiting period to purchase a firearm.
Who May Not Own Firearms in Massachusetts
There are a number of people who may not own a firearm in Massachusetts. Those people include:
- Convicted Felons
- Convicted of unlawful use, possession, or sale of drugs
- Convicted of habitual drunkenness
- Under 18 years of age, but 15-18 is allowed with parental permission
- Confined to a mental hospital or institution for mental illness
If you would like to know more about firearm ownership, and help determining which firearms are legal to own, there are many attorneys throughout Massachusetts with criminal law experiencewho may be able to help.