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Massachusetts Gun Laws

Massachusetts has some of the nation’s most restrictive gun laws. The state has strict licensing and registration procedures, and continues to enact further anti-gun legislation. Although the state constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, it also dictates that guns “ought not to be maintained without the consent of the legislature.” Obtaining a concealed carry license in Massachusetts is particularly difficult. Massachusetts has many regulations and restrictions on concealed carry, and is a ‘may issue’ state. For these reasons, Massachusetts is generally seen as one of the least gun-friendly states in the nation.

Massachusetts Gun Laws at a Glance

Concealed Carry Premit Required Yes
Open Carry Premitted Yes
Waiting period before purchasing No
Lost and Stolen Firearm Reporting Yes
Firearms License Required for Purchasing Yes
Universal Background Check Yes
Firearm Registration Yes
Large Capacity Magazine Ban Yes

Firearm License Requirements

Massachusetts has two types of licenses available to gun purchasers: Firearm Identification Cards (FIDs) and licenses to carry firearms (LTCs).

FID Cards With a FID card, the holder may purchase rifles and shotguns that are not considered “large capacity” weapons. The holder may also purchase feeding devices for long guns that are not considered “large capacity” weapons. Under Masschusetts law, the term “large capacity weapon” includes assault weapons and firearms capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition or more than five shotgun shells.

The state will issue a FID unless the applicant specifically falls into a prohibited person category under Massachusetts law. As well, the licensing authority is granted discretion to deny a FID if the applicant is deemed ‘unsuitable’.

LTCs A license to carry allows the licensee to possess and carry all types of lawful firearms, large-capacity and otherwise.

An LTC may be issued if the applicant is not a prohibited person and has a good reason to fear injury to himself/herself or damage to his/her property. “General self defense” may not be an accepted reason to grant an LTC.

Background Checks

Although background checks are not required when purchasing individual firearms from licensed dealers, buyers must first obtain a license to buy firearms. This license does require a background check.

Massachusetts law does not explicitly require that private sellers conduct background checks on buyers. However, it is required that private sales of firearms be reported to the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services by both the seller and the purchaser.

Gun Shows

Licensed and unlicensed sellers may transfer firearms at gun shows, provided they do so in accordance with all state laws. This includes the prohibition of gun sales to buyers without licenses.

Hardware and Ammunition Restrictions

Hardware Restrictions
Assault Weapons Prohibited. Massachusetts defines ‘assault weapon’ as it was outlined by federal law on September 13, 1994.
50 Caliber Rifles No restrictions.
Machine Guns Prohibited without a machine gun license. These licenses may only be granted to firearms instructors and collectors. A ‘machine gun’ is defined as “a weapon of any description, by whatever name known, loaded or unloaded, from which a number of shots or bullets may be rapidly or automatically discharged by one continuous activation of the trigger, including a submachine gun”.
Large Capacity Magazines Prohibited.
Ammunition Massachusetts does not prohibit any specific kinds of ammunition.

Prohibited Persons

To purchase a firearm in Massachusetts, you must have a FID. A FID will not be issued to any person who:

  • Has been convicted of a:
    • Felony
    • Misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for more than two years
    • Misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
    • Violent crime as defined by Massachusetts law
    • 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
    • Violation of any law regulating the use, possession or sale of controlled substances.
    • Is or has been committed to a hospital or institution for mental illness, alcohol or substance abuse
  • Is or has been under the appointment of a guardian on the grounds that he or she lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his or her affairs
  • Does not maintain lawful permanent residency;
  • Is under 15 years of age, or is between the ages of 15-17 and does not have a certificate demonstrating his or her parent or guardian’s consent to obtain a FID card
  • Is currently subject to orders for suspension or surrender of firearms because of domestic abuse, or permanent or temporary protection orders, including Extreme Risk Protection Orders
  • Has been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces of the United States
  • Is a fugitive from justice
  • Has renounced his or her United States citizenship
  • Is currently the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant in any state or federal jurisdiction

Prohibited Places

Location Restrictions Exceptions
Schools Massachusetts prohibits carrying a firearm on the grounds of any school, college, or university without the written authorization of the board or officer in charge of the school. None.
Vehicles Massachusetts law criminalizes the possession of a firearm in a vehicle, whether loaded or unloaded. Unless the possessor is at his or her residence or place of business or possesses the proper card or license for the firearm.

Concealed Carry Laws

Notify Officer No
“No Gun” Signs Not Enforced
In-Vehicle Carry Not Permitted
Restaurant Carry Not Permitted
State Park Carry Permitted
While Hunting Permitted

Obtaining a Concealed Carry License

A Massachusetts license to carry (LTC) allows the possessor to purchase, possess, rent, borrow, lease, and carry all types of lawful firearms. However, Massachusetts does prohibit the possession of a loaded rifle or shotgun, regardless of LTC status.

Massachusetts is a “may-issue” state. The state has the right to deny or approve any applicant if it is determined that the applicant is unsuitable to carry a firearm.

Requirements for a Concealed Carry License
Massachusetts may issue a concealed carry permit to anyone who:
  • Resides or has a place of business within the jurisdiction of the particular licensing authority
  • Is a suitable person to be issued a concealed carry license, and has good reason to fear injury to his person or property, or for any other reason, including the carrying of firearms for use in sport or target practice only
  • Has not been convicted or adjudicated a youthful offender or delinquent child
  • Has not been committed to a hospital or institution
  • Is not subject to an order of the probate court appointing a guardian for an incapacitated person
  • Is 21 years of age or older
  • Does not maintain lawful permanent residency;
  • Is not subject to a temporary or emergency restraining order, or order of protection;
  • Is not currently the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant in any state or federal jurisdiction;
  • Has not been discharged from the armed forces of the United States under dishonorable conditions
  • Is not a fugitive from justice
  • Has not renounced US citizenship

Concealed Carry Firearms Training

Whether applying for a FID or an LTC, the applicant must complete a basic firearms safety class. A course used for obtaining a FID will need to have rifles and/or shotguns as the primary subject matter. A course used for obtaining an LTC will use handguns.

Concealed Carry Location Restrictions

Even with a valid concealed carry license, you may not carry concealed firearms at the following locations:

  • Any schools, colleges, or universities
  • Courthouses
  • Airports
  • Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law or state law or regulation

Disclaimer: The information provided here is not to be construed as legal advice or acted upon as if it is legal advice: it is provided for informational and entertainment purposes only. While we strive to provide accurate, up-to-date content, we cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or currency of the information. Gun laws can change frequently, especially at the state and local levels. Application of gun laws can be unique to an individual’s situation. We recommend that each individual consult with a competent and qualified legal professional before purchasing, transporting, or using any firearm or firearm-related product.