Massachusetts law about guns and other weapons

Laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on weapons law.

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Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

In general

  • MGL c.140, §§ 121-131P Sale of firearms; includes:

    • § 121 Definitions of firearm types, including antique weapons
    • § 129C Application of Sec. 129B; ownership or possession of firearms or ammunition; transfer; report to commissioner; exemptions; exhibiting license to carry, etc. on demand
    • § 131 Licenses to carry firearms; conditions and restrictions
    • § 131F Non-residents: temporary license to carry firearms or ammunition
    • § 131G Non-residents carrying firearms: pistol or revolver
    • § 131K Firearm safety devices
    • § 131L Storage of weapons
    • § 131P Firearms safety training
  • MGL c.269, § 10 Carrying dangerous weapons; possession of machine gun or sawed-off shotguns; possession of large capacity weapon or large capacity feeding device; possession of ammunition; punishment, certain knives and blades. Subsection (j) prohibits carrying a weapon on school or university grounds.
  • MGL c.269, § 10H Carrying loaded firearm while under influence of liquor, marijuana, narcotic drugs, depressants or stimulant substances; punishment
  • MGL c.276, § 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]."

Bump stocks and trigger cranks

Crossbows

Extreme risk protection orders (ERPO)

Knives

Pepper spray

Stun guns

Toy guns and BB guns

Massachusetts regulations

321 CMR 3.01(3) Hunting with bows and arrows

501 CMR 7 Approved weapon rosters

501 CMR 13 Standards for identification cards for retired law enforcement officers

515 CMR 3 Firearms course and instructor certifications and firearms surrender programs

515 CMR 6 Law enforcement officers safety act qualification standards and instructor certification

803 CMR 10 Gun transaction recording

940 CMR 16 Handgun sales

Federal laws and regulations

18 USC §§ 921-931 Firearms

  • 18 USC § 922(g)(3) prohibits any person who is an "unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802))" from shipping, transporting, receiving or having firearms or ammunition.

Public Law No: 117-159: Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, 117th Congress (2021-2022)
Includes extending background checks for individuals under 21, closure of the "boyfriend loophole", funding for state red flag laws, and clarification on Federal Firearm Identification license requirements.

27 CFR 447-479 Firearms and ammunition

  • 27 CFR 478 "Ghost guns" are subject to the same regulations as commercially manufactured firearms. See also DOJ fact sheet.

Other states' laws

State laws and published ordinances-firearms, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. 
"This publication is designed to help Federal firearms licensees (FFL) comply with Federal and State firearms laws; specifically, with the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA)."

Forms

ATF form 4473, Firearms transaction record (form 4473)
Question 11.e says: Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance? Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.

Firearms servicesMass. Firearms Records Bureau.
Includes information about firearms licenses, sales, and transfers, appealing a firearms license denial, approved firearms rosters, and firearms laws for the state.

Sample complaint for judicial review of revocation of license18 Am. Jur. Pl.& Pr. Forms Municipal Corporations, Counties, Etc. § 46. Available through our Document Delivery Service.

Selected cases

Web sources

Appeal a firearms license denial
If your firearms license was denied, you can appeal the denial at the District Court or in some cases, you can petition the Firearm Licensing Review Board.

Apply for a firearms license in Massachusetts, Exec. Office of Public Safety and Security.
A firearms license is required to possess (FID) or carry (LTC) firearms in Massachusetts. Form is submitted to your local police department.

Approved weapons rosters, Exec. Office of Public Safety and Security.
Links to both the Approved firearms roster and the Large capacity firearms roster.

Extreme risk guide, Mass. Dept. of Mental Health, 2018.
"This guide provides information on resources that may be helpful to individuals, who are seeking an extreme risk protective order, or who had an extreme risk protective order issued against them."

Federal firearms regulations reference guide, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, 2014.
“[C]ontains information that will help you comply with Federal laws and regulations governing the manufacture, importation and distribution of firearms and ammunition.”

Guide to the interstate transportation of firearms, NRA Institute for Legislative Action.
"Many states and localities have laws governing the transportation of firearms. Travelers must be aware of these laws and comply with legal requirements in each jurisdiction. There is no uniform state transportation procedure for firearms." Provides links to state and federal laws. 

Gun ownership in Massachusetts, Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. 
Massachusetts residents 15 years and older who want to possess, carry, and transport firearms, ammunition, and feeding devices are required to have a firearms license. Firearms licenses are issued by municipal police departments. 

Joint Advisory, MA AGO and EOPSS, July 2022.
A joint advisory from the Massachusetts Attorney General and Executive Office of Public Safety and Security regarding the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen and the affect on Massachusetts’s firearm licensing laws.

Law bars most immigrants from carrying self-defense spray, CommonWealth Magazine, February 2019.
"The penalty is imprisonment for up to two years and a fine of not more than $1,000. The only immigrants exempted from the penalty are green card holders and those who have been victims of domestic violence."

Open letter to all federal firearms licensees, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, September 21, 2011.
"any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition."

Public safety notice: 3D-printed guns, Mass. Attorney General, August 9, 2018.
"The creation, transfer, or possession of a weapon made with a 3D printer can subject an individual to serious criminal or civil liability under Massachusetts law."

Suitability challenged: the judicial creation of suitability standards for firearms licensing, Mass. Bar Association, Lawyers Journal, June 2014. 
Discusses the “suitable person” standard for getting a firearms license under MGL c.140, § 131(d), (f).

Transporting firearms and ammunition, TSA.
Explains requirements for transporting firearms on planes.

Print sources

Contact for Massachusetts law about guns and other weapons

Last updated: October 24, 2023

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