Firearms Licensing

(From the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety)

The Massachusetts Gun Control Act of 1998 has significantly changed the requirements regarding the purchase, possession, carrying, storage and licensing of firearms. Below are some frequently asked questions and answers regarding your rights and responsibilities under the new law.

Apply For Your Firearms License Here.

Can out-of-state dealers sell firearms manufactured after October 21, 1998 to Massachusetts residents? 

If a Massachusetts resident has a federal Curio and Relics license, he may purchase curio and relic firearms from out-of-state without complying with G.L. c. 140, § 123. Similarly, a Federal Firearms License which allows for the interstate purchase of handguns, may be used to purchase firearms from out-of-state without complying with G.L. c. 140, § 123. However, in both instances, the buyer must also have a Massachusetts License to Carry and he may not sell the firearm as a Massachusetts dealer.

Can an individual apply for a License to Carry from the local licensing authority of a town where he/she has a place of business? 

General laws c. 140, § 131, subsection (d) states that a person residing or having a place of business within the jurisdiction of the licensing authority or any person residing in the area of exclusive federal jurisdiction located within a city or town may submit to the licensing authority an application for a Class A or Class B license to carry firearms. 

Should all weapons sold within the Commonwealth be equipped with a safety lock? 

General laws c. 140, § 131K states that all sales of firearms and large capacity weapons in Massachusetts MUST include a safety device approved by the colonel of state police. This requirement applies to any seller including a wholesaler. The seller is not required to install the device so long as the weapon is accompanied by it. Failure to comply with this provision will constitute a breach of warranty and an unfair trade practice. This section does not apply to non-large capacity rifles and shotguns.

If an individual buys a handgun or large capacity rifle or shotgun from a dealer, can he supply his own trigger lock to avoid paying for a new one from the dealer? 

No. General laws c140, §131K states that a state approved safety device must be SOLD with the weapon. This places the burden on the dealer to provide the safety device and does not allow the dealer an option of letting the purchaser provide a trigger lock.

Are state-approved trigger locks required any time a trigger lock is used? 

No. State-approved trigger locks are only required under the provisions of G.L. c. 140, §131K and apply to dealers providing them with handguns and large capacity rifles and shotguns that they sell. State-approved trigger locks are not required in any other section of chapter 140. However, most common trigger locks that would be used to help the gun owner comply with section 131L are likely to be state approved even though that approval is not required.

Should a valid holder of a License to Carry renew a Firearms Identification Card based upon notification from the Criminal History Systems Board that the FID card is about to expire?

No. An individual with a License to Carry does not also need a Firearms Identification Card. A License to Carry permits the holder to possess any weapon which would be allowed with a Firearms Identification Card as well as additional weapons depending on the Class. It should be noted that there is no provision barring an individual from holding both a License to Carry and a Firearms Identification Card.

Can a nonresident obtain a permit to carry a weapon in Massachusetts?

General laws c. 140, § 131F allows the Colonel of the State Police or his designee to issue temporary licenses to carry to nonresidents or persons not falling within the jurisdiction of a local licensing authority. Currently, the Firearms Record Bureau has been designated to issue permits to nonresidents. The Bureau may be reached at (617) 660-4780.

Is a license required to possess an air gun (i.e. bb or pellet guns, so-called air rifles or air pistols, paint ball guns) or ammunition therefor (i.e. bb's, pellets, CO2 cartridges, paint balls)?

A Firearms Identification Card is not required to possess an air gun in Massachusetts. Air guns are regulated by G.L. c. 269, § 12B which limits their use by minors who are not accompanied by an adult, holding a sporting or hunting license, or holding a permit from the chief of police. Massachusetts law also prohibits anyone from discharging air rifles from across streets, alleys, public ways or railroads or railway right of ways. It should also be noted that a Firearms Identification Card or a License to Carry are not required to purchase an air gun or ammunition therefor. As such, the state FA10 form should not be used to record the sale of such air guns.

Can a Massachusetts resident sell a gun without being a licensed dealer?

Yes. Under G.L. c. 140, § 128A, a Massachusetts resident may sell a gun provided that he lawfully possesses it with an appropriate Firearms Identification Card or License to Carry or is otherwise exempt, AND that the person buying the gun is also properly licensed with a FID Card or LTC (depending on the type of gun being bought).

How many guns a year can a person sell without being a dealer?

A properly licensed resident who is not a dealer can sell up to four guns a year through a private transfer of ownership.

Should a special form be used when selling guns through a private sale?

The state form required for private sales is an FA10. The FA10 replaced what was known as the "Blue Card" previously used for private sales. This is essentially the same form used by dealers except that instructions are included with each private sale form. This form can be obtained from any police department. The seller must fill out the form and forward it to the Criminal History Systems Board within seven days of the sale.

Do weapons purchased by Massachusetts residents while in another state have to be reported in Massachusetts?

Under G.L. c.140, § 128B, residents who purchase from someone other than a Massachusetts dealer, either within or outside the commonwealth, must report the purchase within seven days to the Criminal History Systems Board. The FA10 form, which can be obtained from any police department, is the simplest way to make such a report.

Can an individual, who is the subject of a restraining order, seek to have the judge remove the surrender portion of the restraining order with regards to weapons permits so that he/she can possess a weapon?

No. Previously, the surrender order could be lifted by the judge and guns and permits could be returned even though the restraining order remained in effect. Under recent changes in chapter 209A, section 3C, the suspension and surrender of a defendant's Firearms Identification Card or License to Carry must continue as long as the underlying restraining order is in effect.