“The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defense. And as, in time of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained without the consent of the legislature; and the military power shall always be held in an exact subordination to the civil authority, and be governed by it.”
*NOTE: Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision on NYSRPA v. Bruen, “May Issue” states must affirm the right to bear arms in public, marking the end of these subjective and unconstitutional permitting schemes. Now these states are scrambling to figure out how to curtail the decision by passing new laws to effectively make it difficult, or even outright illegal, to conceal carry in public. For that reason, things are moving too fast to keep these specific states updated. Please be vigilant in staying updated with your state laws.
AT A GLANCE
Massachusetts is a may-issue state. A Firearm Identification (FID) card or LTC is required to purchase a firearm. Background checks are required to buy a handgun from a private individual. A LTC is also required to buy ammunition. Concealed carry is legal in Massachusetts for individuals who have a Massachusetts LTC, the minimum age is 21. Massachusetts does not honor permits from any other states. Massachusetts is a Castle Doctrine state. There is no duty to retreat in a person’s dwelling, although there is a duty to retreat outside of one’s home.
Massachusetts does not recognize another state’s license to carry. A permit is required in order to purchase a firearm, and You must pass a background check to obtain this permit. A nonresident may apply for a temporary license.
Duty To Notify Police Officer
You must have your license to carry with You at all times when You carry a concealed firearm in Massachusetts. Upon demand from a LEO, You must display your license. Failure to do so may result in forfeiture of Your firearm.
Carrying Firearms In Vehicles
Massachusetts generally prohibits carrying firearms in vehicles without a permit. Handguns may not be carried in vehicles without a permit. Long guns may only be carried without a permit if they are unloaded and secured in a locked container. Large Capacity Weapons may only be carried if they are unloaded and contained within the locked trunk of the vehicle or in a locked case or other secure container.
The only NFA items allowed in Massachusetts are SBR, SBS, MGs, AOWs and DDs., provided they are legally obtained pursuant to federal law and comply with MA’s assault weapons ban. SBRs, SBSs and AOWs must have proper approval from the ATF(E). A state license is needed to own a MG, and some localities prohibit DDs. Suppressors are permitted only for LEOs or licensed manufacturers.
Massachusetts has a Castle Doctrine but no SYG law. There is no duty to retreat when in Your home or place of business. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, or against an unlawful intruder into Your dwelling if You reasonably believe the intruder is about to inflict death or SBI to a lawful occupant of the dwelling.
Carry In Restaurants That Serve Alcohol
Massachusetts has no laws prohibiting the carrying of firearms in restaurants that serve alcohol. You can carry in a restaurant that serves alcohol. Places like Fridays or Chili’s unless they have a “No Gun Sign,” then it is suggested that You not carry into the establishment. This does not include a bar or the bar area of a restaurant. You can carry Your firearm into a restaurant that serves alcohol, but You are prohibited from consuming alcohol while carrying a firearm.
Do “No Gun Signs” Have The Force Of Law?
“No Firearm” signs in Massachusetts do not have the force of law unless they are posted on property that is specifically mentioned in State law as being off limits to those with a permit/license to carry. However, as a possessor with a real property interest, a retailer, has the right to limit, and qualify the right to enter the property, subject to not carrying a handgun. It would be improper to enter, and the licensee would be subject to ejection for possession of a handgun thereat. Failure to leave once requested would subject the licensee to arrest for criminal trespass.
You are allowed to carry handguns openly. An individual with a Class A unrestricted license to carry firearms (LTC-A) does not have to conceal a handgun in public. In 2013, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the holder of a LTC-A license is not responsible for alarm caused by licensed carry of a handgun, and that a permit cannot be revoked for suitability purposes under these circumstances. If police demand to see the permit, it must be produced. Failure to produce a LTC upon demand by a LEO is probable cause for arrest. Open carry of long guns is prohibited, except while hunting.
High Capacity Magazine Ban
Massachusetts bans the sale, transfer, and possession of high-capacity magazines unless they were legally owned on or before 9/13/94, and You have a class A or class B license. High-capacity magazines are defined as those capable of holding more than ten (10) rounds or more than five (5) shotgun shells. Internal tube/helical magazines for .22 firearms are not considered high-capacity magazines, even if capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
Assault Weapons Ban
Massachusetts bans the sale, transfer, and possession of assault weapons, unless they were legally possessed before 7/13/94.
“Large Capacity Weapons” are more available than “Assault Weapons” and may still be manufactured, sold, and owned, but they require a Class A license to obtain, and there are additional regulations governing how You may transport them.
Universal Background Checks
Massachusetts requires background checks be conducted on all sales of firearms, even between private parties.
DISCLAIMER: The Gun Laws by State Guide (GLBSG) was created to provide its readers with a general educational resource tool to explore the pertinent gun laws in Your jurisdiction.
However, the GLBSG was not researched and/or written by attorneys as a specific legal guide to rely upon. Instead, it is a starting point for your own research. In addition, all laws are always subject to reasonable, but different, legal interpretation as to meaning and application.
As such, the GLBSG is not intended to supplant, nor limit, Your need for independent verification of any and all material contained herein and consultation with competent counsel of choice regarding any specific issues.
This type of specific legal analysis is necessarily beyond the general educational objective of the GLBSG and for which a bar-admitted attorney in the particular state(s) is needed and required. The content of this GLBSG is a general restatement of the law.
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