Any Massachusetts resident who wants to legally possess a firearm in Massachusetts must have a valid Massachusetts firearms license issued by his/her local police department. The Firearms Record Bureau (FRB) at the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) is the repository for all firearms licensing and transaction data in the Commonwealth, and is a resource for anyone seeking information about the Commonwealth’s firearms laws and processes.
Firearms Licenses in Massachusetts
The two most common types of firearms licenses in Massachusetts are:
- a Firearms Identification (FID) card, which permits the license holder to purchase and possess non-large capacity rifles, shotguns, and ammunition; additionally, any person age 15 to 18 years old who wants to purchase self-defense spray must obtain an FID (individuals 18 years old or older do not need an FID card to purchase self-defense spray); and,
- a License to Carry (LTC), which permits the license holder to purchase and possess all large and non-large capacity firearms, rifles, shotguns, and ammunition; this license also allows the carrying of concealed handguns.
IMPORTANT: The Class B LTC will no longer be issued after January 1, 2015. However, all current Class B licenses will remain valid until the said expiration of the licenses.
A large-capacity weapon is defined as any firearm, rifle, or shotgun that is:
- semi-automatic with a fixed large capacity feeding device;
- semi-automatic and capable of accepting, or readily modifiable to accept any detachable large capacity feeding device;
- employs a rotating cylinder capable of accepting more than 10 rounds of ammunition in a rifle or firearm, and more than 5 shells in the case of a shotgun or firearm; or,
- is an assault weapon.
Firearms License Application Requirements and Procedures
For a Firearms Identification (FID) card, applicants must be at least 18 years of age (15 with permission of a parent or guardian) and must complete an approved firearms safety course or Massachusetts basic hunter education course, both of which provide an overview of Massachusetts gun laws and teach individuals how to safely handle a firearm. FID card applicants who only wish to purchase self-defense spray are not required to fulfill this education requirement.
U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens (green card holders) residing in Massachusetts are eligible for resident firearms licenses.
Non-U.S. citizens residing in Massachusetts who are not permanent residents (i.e., those who hold a student or work VISA) must apply for a Resident Alien Permit to Possess a Rifle or Shotgun through the Firearms Records Bureau (FRB). This permit does not allow for the possession of handguns.
Non-residents of Massachusetts must obtain a non-resident, temporary license to carry (LTC) to possess or carry firearms in the Commonwealth. Some exemptions exist for the possession of rifles and shotguns without a non-resident LTC. The non-resident LTC is valid for one year, and the applicant must take a state-approved firearms safety course or a Massachusetts basic hunter education course.
Massachusetts Resident Firearms License
Massachusetts residents who want to obtain a firearms license must apply in person at the police department in the city or town where they either reside or have a place of business. The application must include the specific reason(s) for wanting a firearms license, as well as the names and contact information of two personal references. Applicants must also provide information about past criminal convictions or felonies, as well as about any history of domestic violence, mental illness, or drug/alcohol addiction.
Massachusetts law states that firearms license applications must be either approved or denied within 40 days of the date of application. Applicants can check the status of their firearms license application by contacting the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) at (617) 660-4722.
A resident Firearms Identification (FID) card, Class A License to Carry (LTC), and Class B License to Carry (LTC) are all valid for a period of six years.
If a license holder moves to a new address, or changes his/her mailing address, he/she must file a change of address form with the Firearms Records Bureau (FRB), with the police chief at the new address, and with the police chief at the old address by certified mail within 30 days of the move.
Purchasing and Selling Firearms
A Massachusetts firearms license holder may sell up to four guns in any one calendar year through a private transfer without becoming a licensed Massachusetts firearms dealer. Each sale must be reported to the Firearms Records Bureau (FRB) within seven days of the transaction, either through the online Massachusetts Firearms Registration and Transfer System or by mailing a FA10 form (available at any local police department) to the FRB.
Firearms purchased by Massachusetts licensees while in another state must also be reported to the FRB within seven days of the transaction.
Any firearms and large-capacity weapon sold in the Commonwealth by a Massachusetts licensed firearms dealer must include a safety device approved by the Colonel of the Massachusetts State Police and provided by the dealer, whether physically installed or accompanying the weapon. Non-large capacity rifles and shotguns are the only firearms excluded from this law.
According to Massachusetts law, non-large capacity rifles and shotguns may be transported in a vehicle without a locked case if they are unloaded.
A person with a Class A License to Carry (LTC) may transport a loaded or unloaded handgun in a vehicle only if it is on his/her person. If the firearm is not under the direct control of the person, it must be unloaded and locked in a case, a locked trunk, or in another type of secure container.
A person with a Class B License to Carry (LTC ) must transport handguns, large capacity rifles, or large capacity shotguns unloaded and in a locked case, a locked trunk, or in another type of secure container. Trigger locks alone do not qualify as a means of securing weapons during transport in a vehicle.
A firearm may be left unattended in a vehicle only if it is unloaded in a locked case, a locked trunk, or other another type of secure container.
According to Massachusetts law, any individual who is the subject of a restraining order issued pursuant to G.L. c. 209A will have their Firearms Identification (FID) card or Firearms License to Carry (LTC) suspended as long as the restraining order is in effect.
For additional information about firearms laws, licenses, and regulations, contact the Firearms Records Bureau (FRB) at 617-660-4782.