FIND GUN LAWS BY STATE

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More

Massachusetts Gun Laws

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Introduction

Massachusetts 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.

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A. State Constitution

Regarding the right to bear arms, the Massachusetts Constitution states:

“The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defense. And as, in time of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained without the consent of the legislature; and the military power shall always be held in an exact subordination to the civil authority, and be governed by it.”

[http://gunla.ws/ma1]

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B. Scope of Preemption

Massachusetts does not have a preemption clause.

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C. 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” [http://gunla.ws/ma2]

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”

[http://gunla.ws/ma3]

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D. 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.

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E. NFA Items

The only NFA items allowed in Massachusetts are SBR, SBS, MGs, AOWs and DDs., provided they are legally obtained pursuant to federal law and comply with MA’s assault weapons ban. SBRs, SBSs and AOWs must have proper approval from the ATF(E). A state license is needed to own a MG, and some localities prohibit DDs. Suppressors are permitted only for LEOs or licensed manufacturers. [http://gunla.ws/3ryl]

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F. Assault Weapons Ban

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

The definitions for “Assault Weapon”, “Large Capacity Feeding Device” (magazine), and “Large Capacity Weapon” can be found at the following hyperlink: [http://gunla.ws/ma4]

“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.

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G. Universal Background checks

Massachusetts requires background checks be conducted on all sales of firearms, even between private parties. [http://gunla.ws/c0i0]

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H. 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. [http://gunla.ws/ma5]

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I. 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.

[http://gunla.ws/ma6]

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J. Duty to Inform Officer

No. You must have your license to carry with You at all times when You carry a concealed firearm in Massachusetts.    Upon demand from a LEO, You must display your license. Failure to do so may result in forfeiture of Your firearm. [http://gunla.ws/lg44]

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K. 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  [http://gunla.ws/ja48]
  • While under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, narcotic drugs, depressants, stimulant substances, or the vapors of glue  [http://gunla.ws/ma7]
  • 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.

For a list of places where carrying a firearm is prohibited, see:

[http://gunla.ws/ma8]

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L. Do “No Gun Signs” Have the Force of Law?

No. “No Firearm” signs in Massachusetts do not have the force of law unless they are posted on property that is specifically mentioned in State law as being off limits to those with a permit/license to carry. However, as a possessor with a real property interest, a retailer, has the right to limit, and qualify the right to enter the property, subject to not carrying a handgun. It would be improper to enter, and the licensee would be subject to ejection for possession of a handgun thereat. Failure to leave once requested would subject the licensee to arrest for criminal trespass.

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M. 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.

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N. 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.

 

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FIND GUN LAWS BY STATE

Table of Contents

About the author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More