Mass. General Laws c.140 § 121

Firearms sales; definitions; antique firearms; application of law; exceptions

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Section 121

As used in sections 122 to 131Y, inclusive, the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:--

“Ammunition”, cartridges or cartridge cases, primers (igniter), bullets or propellant powder designed for use in any firearm, rifle or shotgun. The term “ammunition” shall also mean tear gas cartridges.

“Assault weapon”, shall have the same meaning as a semiautomatic assault weapon as defined in the federal Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. section 921(a)(30) as appearing in such section on September 13, 1994, and shall include, but not be limited to, any of the weapons, or copies or duplicates of the weapons, of any caliber, known as: (i) Avtomat Kalashnikov (AK) (all models); (ii) Action Arms Israeli Military Industries UZI and Galil; (iii) Beretta Ar70 (SC-70); (iv) Colt AR-15; (v) Fabrique National FN/FAL, FN/LAR and FNC; (vi) SWD M-10, M-11, M-11/9 and M-12; (vi) Steyr AUG; (vii) INTRATEC TEC-9, TEC-DC9 and TEC-22; and (viii) revolving cylinder shotguns, such as, or similar to, the Street Sweeper and Striker 12; provided, however, that the term assault weapon shall not include: (i) any of the weapons, or replicas or duplicates of such weapons, specified in appendix A to 18 U.S.C. section 922 as appearing in such appendix on September 13, 1994, as such weapons were manufactured on October 1, 1993; (ii) any weapon that is operated by manual bolt, pump, lever or slide action; (iii) any weapon that has been rendered permanently inoperable or otherwise rendered permanently unable to be designated a semiautomatic assault weapon; (iv) any weapon that was manufactured prior to the year 1899; (v) any weapon that is an antique or relic, theatrical prop or other weapon that is not capable of firing a projectile and which is not intended for use as a functional weapon and cannot be readily modified through a combination of available parts into an operable assault weapon; (vi) any semiautomatic rifle that cannot accept a detachable magazine that holds more than five rounds of ammunition; or (vii) any semiautomatic shotgun that cannot hold more than five rounds of ammunition in a fixed or detachable magazine.

“Bump stock”, any device for a weapon that increases the rate of fire achievable with such weapon by using energy from the recoil of the weapon to generate a reciprocating action that facilitates repeated activation of the trigger.

“Conviction”, a finding or verdict of guilt or a plea of guilty, whether or not final sentence is imposed.

“Court”, as used in sections 131R to 131Y, inclusive, the division of the district court department or the Boston municipal court department of the trial court having jurisdiction in the city or town in which the respondent resides.

“Deceptive weapon device”, any device that is intended to convey the presence of a rifle, shotgun or firearm that is used in the commission of a violent crime, as defined in this section, and which presents an objective threat of immediate death or serious bodily harm to a person of reasonable and average sensibility.

“Extreme risk protection order”, an order by the court ordering the immediate suspension and surrender of any license to carry firearms or firearm identification card which the respondent may hold and ordering the respondent to surrender all firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, weapons or ammunition which the respondent then controls, owns or possesses; provided, however, that an extreme risk protection order shall be in effect for up to 1 year from the date of issuance and may be renewed upon petition.

“Family or household member”, a person who: (i) is or was married to the respondent; (ii) is or was residing with the respondent in the same household; (iii) is or was related by blood or marriage to the respondent; (iv) has or is having a child in common with the respondent, regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together; (v) is or has been in a substantive dating relationship with the respondent; or (vi) is or has been engaged to the respondent.

“Firearm”, a stun gun or a pistol, revolver or other weapon of any description, loaded or unloaded, from which a shot or bullet can be discharged and of which the length of the barrel or barrels is less than 16 inches or 18 inches in the case of a shotgun as originally manufactured; provided, however, that the term firearm shall not include any weapon that is: (i) constructed in a shape that does not resemble a handgun, short-barreled rifle or short-barreled shotgun including, but not limited to, covert weapons that resemble key-chains, pens, cigarette-lighters or cigarette-packages; or (ii) not detectable as a weapon or potential weapon by x-ray machines commonly used at airports or walk- through metal detectors.

“Gunsmith”, any person who engages in the business of repairing, altering, cleaning, polishing, engraving, blueing or performing any mechanical operation on any firearm, rifle, shotgun or machine gun.

“Imitation firearm”, any weapon which is designed, manufactured or altered in such a way as to render it incapable of discharging a shot or bullet.

“Large capacity feeding device”, (i) a fixed or detachable magazine, box, drum, feed strip or similar device capable of accepting, or that can be readily converted to accept, more than ten rounds of ammunition or more than five shotgun shells; or (ii) a large capacity ammunition feeding device as defined in the federal Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. section 921(a)(31) as appearing in such section on September 13, 1994. The term “large capacity feeding device” shall not include an attached tubular device designed to accept, and capable of operating only with, .22 caliber ammunition.

“Large capacity weapon”, any firearm, rifle or shotgun: (i) that is semiautomatic with a fixed large capacity feeding device; (ii) that is semiautomatic and capable of accepting, or readily modifiable to accept, any detachable large capacity feeding device; (iii) that employs a rotating cylinder capable of accepting more than ten rounds of ammunition in a rifle or firearm and more than five shotgun shells in the case of a shotgun or firearm; or (iv) that is an assault weapon. The term “large capacity weapon” shall be a secondary designation and shall apply to a weapon in addition to its primary designation as a firearm, rifle or shotgun and shall not include: (i) any weapon that was manufactured in or prior to the year 1899; (ii) any weapon that operates by manual bolt, pump, lever or slide action; (iii) any weapon that is a single-shot weapon; (iv) any weapon that has been modified so as to render it permanently inoperable or otherwise rendered permanently unable to be designated a large capacity weapon; or (v) any weapon that is an antique or relic, theatrical prop or other weapon that is not capable of firing a projectile and which is not intended for use as a functional weapon and cannot be readily modified through a combination of available parts into an operable large capacity weapon.

“Length of barrel” or “barrel length”, that portion of a firearm, rifle, shotgun or machine gun through which a shot or bullet is driven, guided or stabilized and shall include the chamber.

“Licensing authority”, the chief of police or the board or officer having control of the police in a city or town, or persons authorized by them.

“Machine gun”, 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; provided, however, that “machine gun” shall include bump stocks and trigger cranks.

“Petition”, a request filed with the court by a petitioner for the issuance or renewal of an extreme risk protection order.

“Petitioner”, the family or household member, or the licensing authority of the municipality where the respondent resides, filing a petition.

“Purchase” and “sale” shall include exchange; the word “purchaser” shall include exchanger; and the verbs “sell” and “purchase”, in their different forms and tenses, shall include the verb exchange in its appropriate form and tense.

“Respondent”, the person identified as the respondent in a petition against whom an extreme risk protection order is sought.

“Rifle”, a weapon having a rifled bore with a barrel length equal to or greater than 16 inches and capable of discharging a shot or bullet for each pull of the trigger.

“Sawed-off shotgun”, any weapon made from a shotgun, whether by alteration, modification or otherwise, if such weapon as modified has one or more barrels less than 18 inches in length or as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches.

“Semiautomatic”, capable of utilizing a portion of the energy of a firing cartridge to extract the fired cartridge case and chamber the next round, and requiring a separate pull of the trigger to fire each cartridge.

“Shotgun”, a weapon having a smooth bore with a barrel length equal to or greater than 18 inches with an overall length equal to or greater than 26 inches, and capable of discharging a shot or bullet for each pull of the trigger.

“Stun gun”, a portable device or weapon, regardless of whether it passes an electrical shock by means of a dart or projectile via a wire lead, from which an electrical current, impulse, wave or beam that is designed to incapacitate temporarily, injure or kill may be directed.

“Substantive dating relationship”, a relationship as determined by the court after consideration of the following factors: (i) the length of time of the relationship; (ii) the type of relationship; (iii) the frequency of interaction between the parties; and (iv) if the relationship has been terminated by either person, the length of time elapsed since the termination of the relationship.

“Trigger crank”, any device to be attached to a weapon that repeatedly activates the trigger of the weapon through the use of a lever or other part that is turned in a circular motion; provided, however, that “trigger crank” shall not include any weapon initially designed and manufactured to fire through the use of a crank or lever.

“Violent crime”, shall mean any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, or any act of juvenile delinquency involving the use or possession of a deadly weapon that would be punishable by imprisonment for such term if committed by an adult, that: (i) has as an element the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force or a deadly weapon against the person of another; (ii) is burglary, extortion, arson or kidnapping; (iii) involves the use of explosives; or (iv) otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious risk of physical injury to another.

“Weapon”, any rifle, shotgun or firearm.

Where the local licensing authority has the power to issue licenses or cards under this chapter, but no such licensing authority exists, any resident or applicant may apply for such license or firearm identification card directly to the colonel of state police and said colonel shall for this purpose be the licensing authority.

The provisions of sections 122 to 129D, inclusive, and sections 131, 131A, 131B and 131E shall not apply to:

(A) any firearm, rifle or shotgun manufactured in or prior to the year 1899;

(B) any replica of any firearm, rifle or shotgun described in clause (A) if such replica: (i) is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition; or (ii) uses rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition which is no longer manufactured in the United States and which is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade; and

(C) manufacturers or wholesalers of firearms, rifles, shotguns or machine guns.

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Administrative office (no law library at this location)
2 Center Plaza
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Boston, MA 02108
Last updated: May 17, 2019
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