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.
- Gun Laws at a Glance
- Firearm License Requirements
- Background Checks
- Gun Shows
- Ammunition and Hardware Restrictions
- Prohibited Persons
- Prohibited Places
- Concealed Carry Laws
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|
|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.
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.
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
|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.|
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:
- 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
|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
|“No Gun” Signs||Not Enforced|
|In-Vehicle Carry||Not Permitted|
|Restaurant Carry||Not Permitted|
|State Park Carry||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:
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
- 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.