Gun ownership in Massachusetts

Massachusetts residents 15 years and older who wish 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.

Agencies involved in firearms licensing

Your local police department issues firearms licenses. Contact the police department first for assistance with the requirements and forms needed to apply for a firearms license.

The Office of Public Safety's Firearms Records Bureau is a state agency resource for the public and law enforcement agencies with information about the Commonwealth's gun laws.

Firearms license class categories

There are different types of licenses based on the type of firearms to be possessed:

  • License to Carry (LTC)Permits the purchase, possession, transportation, and carrying of all large- and non-large-capacity handguns, rifles, shotguns, and feeding devices, as well as ammunition. This is the only license that allows the carrying of concealed handguns-either loaded or unloaded.
  • Firearms Identification Card (FID): Permits the purchase, possession, and transportation of non-large-capacity rifles, shotguns, and ammunition.

A large-capacity firearm is defined as a semi-automatic handgun or rifle that is capable of accepting more than ten rounds, OR is a semi-automatic shotgun capable of accepting more than five shotgun shells, OR is an assault weapon. A rifle with a fixed tubular magazine designed to accept, and capable of operating only with, .22 caliber ammunition is not a large-capacity firearm. 

NOTE: Although a firearms license is not needed to possess primitive long guns such as a muzzleloading rifle or shotgun or its ammunition, a firearms license is needed to purchase all ammunition including black powder.

Application process, fees, and renewals

Your local police department is your licensing authority and can provide the forms and information needed to apply. Contact your Local PD before any actions are taken. They will identify the conditions that must be met before a firearms license is issued.

  • New LTC applicants must be 21 years of age or older to obtain a permit. In accordance with MGL Ch. 140, Sec. 131(a) & (b); Issuing of LTCs is also “subject to such restrictions relative to the possession, use or carrying of firearms as the licensing authority deems proper.” An LTC costs $100.00 and is valid for 6 years.
  • New FID applicants must be 18 years or older (or 14–17 years of age with parental consent). Applicants 14 years old may apply, but will not be issued the card until they reach age 15). In accordance with MGL Ch. 140, Sec. 129B; “Any person residing or having a place of business within the jurisdiction of the licensing authority or any person residing in an area of exclusive federal jurisdiction located within a city or town may submit to the licensing authority an application for a firearm identification card, or renewal of the same, which the licensing authority shall issue if it appears that the applicant is not a prohibited person.” The fee for an FID card is $100.00 for people 18 years of age or older and $25 for applicants under 18 years of age. It is valid for 6 years.
  • Firearms License Renewals: Firearms licenses are valid for 6 years. You must submit a request with your local police department for a renewal prior to the expiration date of your current license. If your application for renewal is made prior to the expiration date, your current license remains valid until the renewal is either approved or denied. Additional training is not required.

Training requirements

Your local police department is your licensing authority and can provide the forms and information needed to apply. Contact your Local PD before any actions are taken. They will identify the conditions that must be met before a firearms license is issued.

Training requirements: In accordance with MGL Ch. 140, Sec. 131P (a) all first time firearm license applicants must successfully complete a MA Certified Firearms Safety Course or a Basic Hunter Education Course and submit a certificate of completion with their firearms license application.

  • Certified Firearms Safety Courses are taught by independent instructors certified by the Massachusetts Department of State Police and are usually a 1-day course. Taking a firearms safety course is your best option if you are simply trying to fulfill the training requirement to apply for a Mass. firearms license.
  • Basic Hunter Education Courses are administered by the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife and are taught throughout the state by certified volunteer instructors and agency staff. The Basic Hunter Education course includes the recommended guidelines for all new hunters and is designed to teach proper safety and ethics in the field while hunting. People interested in obtaining a hunting license and applying for an FID should take this course.

Information about firearms licensing and firearms safety courses is available online:

The Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) provides:

Firearms Record Bureau provides:

Transporting firearms in motor vehicles

Handguns: Under an LTC, the holder is allowed to transport a loaded or unloaded handgun on his person or in a motor vehicle if the handgun is under his direct control. If the handgun is not under his direct control or is left unattended, it must be unloaded and in a locked case, locked trunk, or other secure container.

Large-Capacity Rifles and Shotguns: All persons transporting large capacity rifles or shotguns under an LTC must transport them unloaded and in a locked case, locked trunk, or other secure container. Trigger locks do not meet the requirements of securing a large-capacity firearm during transport in a motor vehicle. Large-capacity firearms left unattended in a vehicle must be unloaded and in a locked case, locked trunk, or other secure container.

Non-Large-Capacity Rifles and Shotguns: Non-large capacity rifles and shotguns may be transported under an LTC or FID license and must be unloaded but are not required to be in a locked case while transporting. Muzzleloading or other Black Powder arms must also be unloaded while transporting. Note: Although locking cases are recommended, only large-capacity rifles and shotguns are subject to this transporting requirement.

The laws for transporting a firearm can be confusing. Basically, if you keep the firearm unloaded, and locked in a case in the trunk or rear storage compartment of a truck or SUV you will comply with the current law.

Carrying rifles and shotguns on public ways while hunting

You can carry a loaded or unloaded rifle or shotgun upon or across a public way if you are engaged in hunting and hold a valid hunting license. You do not need a trigger lock on the rifle or shotgun provided you are engaged in hunting and have a valid hunting license.

NOTE: You shall not possess or discharge a loaded rifle or shotgun within 500 feet of a building or dwelling in use without the owner or occupant’s permission. Also, you shall not discharge a rifle or shotgun upon or across any state or hard surfaced highway or within 150 feet of a highway.

Storage of firearms at home

All guns must be stored in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device. Primitive firearms are exempt from this storage requirement. It is recommended that you store firearms unloaded, separately from ammunition, in locked compartments.

Non-residents

Non-residents with a valid Massachusetts non-resident hunting license do not need a firearm license to possess or carry rifles and shotguns and ammunition during the hunting season.

Non-residents do not need a firearms license to transport their firearms in or through the Commonwealth, provided the firearms are unloaded and enclosed in a case while traveling.

Non-residents may not purchase guns or ammunition in Massachusetts without authorization. To obtain a non-resident License To Carry or a non-resident permit to possess handguns, contact the Criminal History Systems Board (CHSB ) Firearms Support Services (617) 660-4780.

Aliens

A license is needed to possess firearms. All lawful permanent resident aliens are eligible to apply for a MA resident license to carry or firearms identification card issued through their local police department. Non-resident aliens should contact the Criminal History Systems Board (CHSB ) Firearms Support Services (617) 660-4780.

Disclaimer

The above information is provided by the MassWildlife as a public service. No attempt is made to render legal advice. MassWildlife is not liable for errors. Consult legal counsel for current and up-to-date laws pertaining to Chapter 140. For answers to frequently asked questions: http://www.mass.gov/eopss/firearms-reg-and-laws/.

Note: The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (MassWildlife) provides external links to the websites of entities mentioned on this page as a public service; it does not exercise control over the content of these websites. A link's presence here should not be construed as an endorsement of its contents by MassWildlife.

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