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Massachusetts Gun Control Laws

Massachusetts has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. 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.

See the table below for a summary of Massachusetts' gun ownership laws. For more general, national information see our articles on gun laws.

Relevant Statutes (Laws)

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269, Sections 10 through 12F
  • Carrying dangerous weapons - Section 10
  • Selling, giving, or using silencers - Section 10A
  • Illegal sale, gifts, or transfer of large-capacity weapons or large-capacity feeding devices; punishment - Section 10F
  • Violations of Sec. 10 by persons previously convicted of violent crimes or serious drug offenses - Section 10G
  • Rifle or shotgun loaded with shells or cartridges; unloaded rifle or shotgun; carrying on public way prohibited; exceptions; punishment - Section 12D
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 140, Sections 121 through 131Y
  • Licenses; contents; fingerprints of applicants; procedure on refusal of license - Section 122
  • Conditions of licenses - Section 123
  • Unauthorized purchase of firearms - Section 128B
  • Firearm identification cards; conditions and restrictions - Section 129B
  • Ownership or possession of firearms or ammunition; transfers; report to commissioner; exemptions; exhibiting license to carry, etc. on demand - Section 129C
  • Licenses to carry firearms; conditions and restrictions - Section 131
  • Firearms or large capacity weapons without safety devices; liability - Section 131K
  • Assault weapon or large capacity feeding device not lawfully possessed on September 13, 1994 - Section 131M
  • Covert weapons; sale, transfer, or possession; punishment - Section 131N

Illegal Arms

The following items are illegal in Massachusetts:
  • Machine guns, with a few limited exceptions
  • Sawed-off shotguns
  • Silencers
  • Bump stocks

Waiting Period

Massachusetts has no waiting period between the time of purchase and the delivery of a firearm.

Who May Not Own

In order to purchase or possess a gun in Massachusetts, a person must have a Firearms Identification Card or a License to Carry. To obtain either of these, a person must:
  • Not have been convicted or adjudicated a youthful offender or delinquent child for a felony, a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for more than 2 years, a violent crime, a weapons or ammunition crime for which a term of imprisonment may be imposed, a controlled substance crime, or a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
  • Not have been adjudicated incapacitated or committed to a hospital or institution for mental illness or alcohol or substance abuse
  • Be older than 21 years of age
  • Not be an immigrant who does not maintain lawful permanent residency
  • Not be subject to an order for suspension or surrender of a firearm, a permanent or temporary protection order, or an extreme risk protection order
  • Not currently have an outstanding arrest warrant
  • Not have been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces of the United States
  • Not be a fugitive from justice
  • Not have renounced their United States citizenship

License Required?

Massachusetts requires a license for firearms. It has two types of firearm license:
  • Firearms Identification Card: Allows people to purchase, possess, and transport ammunition and rifles and shotguns that are not large capacity.
  • License to Carry: Allows people to purchase, possess, transport, and carry both large capacity and non-large capacity handguns, rifles, shotguns, feeding devices, and ammunition. This license allows the cardholder to carry concealed handguns and to open carry.

Concealed Carry License Required?

A License to Carry is required to carry concealed handguns in Massachusetts.

Open Carried Allowed?

Open carried is allowed if the gun owner has a license to carry a firearm.

Eligibility for a Concealed Carry License

To obtain a License to Carry, an applicant must:
  • Not have been convicted or adjudicated a youthful offender or delinquent child for a felony, a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for more than 2 years, a violent crime, a weapons or ammunition crime for which a term of imprisonment may be imposed, a controlled substance crime, or a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
  • Not have been adjudicated incapacitated or committed to a hospital or institution for mental illness or alcohol or substance abuse
  • Be older than 21 years of age
  • Not be an alien who does not maintain lawful permanent residency
  • Not be subject to an order for suspension or surrender of a firearm, a permanent or temporary protection order, or an extreme risk protection order
  • Not currently have an outstanding arrest warrant
  • Not have been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces of the United States
  • Not be a fugitive from justice
  • Not have renounced their United States citizenship

Machine Gun Laws

Machine guns are prohibited unless a person holds a special license for a firearm instructor or a bona fide firearms collector.

Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession

Firearm possession laws have a wide range of penalties. They can be misdemeanors that carry a maximum of two years or felonies with potential for several years of imprisonment. For example, illegal possession of a machine gun or sawed-off shotgun carries a penalty up to life imprisonment.

Penalties for Illegal Possession on or Near School Grounds

It is illegal to carry a loaded or unloaded firearm in any building or on the grounds of any school, college, or university without the written authorization of the board or officer in charge of the school, college, or university. The punishment is a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than 2 years, or both a fine and imprisonment.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

Find an Experienced Gun Law Attorney

If you are facing criminal prosecution for a gun crime or would like help determining which firearms are legal to own, you should consult with an attorney licensed in Massachusetts.

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