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Massachusetts Law About Guns and Other Weapons

Massachusetts Laws

St. 2014, c.284 An Act Relative to the Reduction of Gun Violence. Provisions include new penalties for some gun crimes, real-time background checks for private gun sales, and gives police chiefs the right to go to court to deny firearms identification cards for rifles or shotguns to those they believe are unsuitable.

MGL c.140, s.121-131P, Sale of Firearms. Includes:

MGL c.269, s.10. Carrying dangerous weapons; possession of machine gun or sawed-off shotguns; possession of large capacity weapon or large capacity feeding device; punishment. Subsection (j) prohibits carrying a weapon on the grounds of a school or university.

MGL c. 269, s.12B Air rifles; possession by minors; shooting (including BB guns)

MGL c.276, s.58A(1) "The commonwealth may move, based on dangerousness, for an order of pretrial detention...[for a person] arrested and charged with a violation of paragraph (a), (c), or (m) of section 10 of chapter 269 [illegal weapons]."

Massachusetts Regulations

Other States' Laws

State Laws and Published Ordinances - Firearms, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.


Firearms Forms

Selected Case Law

Chardin v. Boston Police Commissioner, 465 Mass. 314 (2013). Massachusetts firearms licensing statute "does not infringe on a right protected by the Second Amendment."

Commonwealth v. Fettes, 64 Mass.App.Ct. 917 (2005). A dog can be a dangerous weapon. "A dangerous weapon is 'any instrument or instrumentality so constructed or so used as to be likely to produce death or great bodily harm.' Commonwealth v. Farrell, 322 Mass. 606, 614-615 (1948). See also Anderson, Wharton's Criminal Law and Procedure, § 361. There can be little doubt that a dog . . . used for the purpose of intimidation or attack falls within this definition." Commonwealth v. Tarrant, 2 Mass. App. Ct. 483, 486 (1974)."

Commonwealth v. Garcia, 82 Mass. App. Ct. 239 (2012). Provides detailed definitions of "dirk knife" and "dagger."

Commonwealth v. McGowan, 464 Mass. 232 (2013). Court held that "because [G.L. c.140,] § 131L (a) is consistent with the right to bear arms in self-defense in one's home and is designed to prevent those who are not licensed to possess or carry firearms from gaining access to firearms, it falls outside the scope of the Second Amendment."

Commonwealth v. Runyan, 456 Mass. 230 (2010). Trigger locks or locked containers can be required. The Second Amendment is not incorporated under the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of substantive due process and therefore does not apply to the States. Further, the General Laws c. 140, § 131L (a) can be distinguished from the law ruled unconstitutional in Heller, because "an individual with a valid firearms identification card issued under G. L. c. 140, § 129C, is not obliged to secure or render inoperable a firearm while the individual carries it or while it remains otherwise under the individual's control...; the statute therefore does not make it impossible for those persons licensed to possess firearms to rely on them for lawful self-defense."

District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 US 570, 128 S.Ct. 2783 (June 26, 2008). "The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home."

Fletcher v. Haas, 851 F.Supp.2d. 287 (2012). "[T]he Massachusetts firearms regulatory regime as applied to [lawful permanent resident aliens], contravenes the Second Amendment." Judgment entered "enjoining denial of firearm licenses and permits to [plaintiffs] solely on the basis of their permanent resident alien status."

McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 US 3025, 130 S.Ct. 3020 (2010). In clearly stating that "the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment makes the Second Amendment right binding on the States," the court also reiterated its statement from Heller that "the right to keep and bear arms is not 'a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.'”

Other Web Sources

Airline Transportation of Firearms, NRA Institute for Legislative Action.

Approved Weapons Rosters, Executive Office of Public Safety. Links to both the Approved Firearms Roster and the Large Capacity Firearms Roster.

Are You a Suitable Gun Owner? Police Chiefs Decide, Metrowest News, Jan. 16, 2011. Explains criteria for getting a gun permit in Massachusetts.

Firearms Possession Information, Executive Office of Public Safety. Includes information for residents and nonresidents.

Guide to the Interstate Transportation of Firearms, NRA Institute for Legislative Action.

MA Firearms Frequently Asked Questions, Executive Office of Public Safety. Includes question on licensing, storage, locks, transporting and more.

Massachusetts Crossbow Laws Still Intact, South Coast Today, June 9, 2013. Explains the state's extremely limited crossbow access law (MGL c.131, s.69) with link to the permit application form.

Under the Gun, Boston Globe, May 29, 2008. Requirements for obtaining a concealed weapon license differ from town to town in Massachusetts.

Print Sources

Complex Issues in Trying Drug and Gun Cases in Federal and State Court, Flaschner Judicial Institute, 2011.

Firearms Law Deskbook, Thomson West, 2007.

Guns, Drugs and Money, MCLE, 2008.

Law Enforcement Guide to Firearms Law, Municipal Police Institute, 2013.

A Quick Reference to the Elements of Crimes: A Resource for Clerk-Magistrates and Assistant Clerk-Magistrates, Judicial Institute, 2006.