Massachusetts Gun Laws

Guide to Massachusetts Gun Laws

Updated April 20, 2019:

Updated April 20, 2019:

 

Your guide
Image

Mark Woodward

Mark Woodward

Massachusetts gun laws operate on a "May Issue" policy leaving it to the discretion of the issuing officer as to wether or not a license to carry (LTC) will be issued. The LTC license is required to purchase any handgun, rifle, shotgun and ammunition.


Your guide
Image

Mark Woodward

Oklahoma is currently a Shall Issue state but this will change on November 1, 2019 when a new Constitutional Carry law will come into effect. The state can be regarded as having a strong gun culture and this is reflected in the gun laws which are less restrictive than other states.

Massachusetts gun laws operate on a "May Issue" policy leaving it to the discretion of the issuing officer as to wether or not a license to carry (LTC) will be issued. The LTC license is required to purchase any handgun, rifle, shotgun and ammunition.

The gun laws in Massachusetts are fairly restrictive with some issuing authorities requiring applicants to justify the need for a firearm. Non-residents of the state can also apply for a LTC license, however, they are required to obtain a temporary license before traveling to the state and their application must be submitted to the state police whereas residents apply at the local police station.

Share this post!

The gun laws in Massachusetts are fairly restrictive with some issuing authorities requiring applicants to justify the need for a firearm. Non-residents of the state can also apply for a LTC license, however, they are required to obtain a temporary license before traveling to the state and their application must be submitted to the state police whereas residents apply at the local police station.

Quick facts

Carry In Vehicle SEE DETAILS
Must Notify Officer NO
State Park Carry YES
Gun Signs Enforced NO
Open Carry YES
Restaurant Carry YES
Constitutional Carry NO
See Details See Details

Keep up with everything from your inbox

  • GunsToCarry Weekly: Updates on new gun laws, sent weekly
  • Deals We Love: The best deals we can find, sent weekly

Keep up with everything from your inbox

  • GunsToCarry Weekly: Updates on new gun laws, sent weekly
  • Deals We Love: The best deals we can find, sent weekly
total active ccw
0
licenses in MA
States honoring
0
MA license
CCW licenses
0
MA honors
States not
0
honoring MA license

Massachusetts Reciprocity Map

  • Issuing State
  • MA license honored
  • MA license not honored
  • MA residential license only

Massachusetts reciprocity guide for LTC licenses

Under Massachusetts state law any firearms license from another state will not be honoured.

States that will honor a Massachusetts LTC licence
0
states

Resident Licences
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin

Non-Resident Licences
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin

Handgun licences Massachusetts will honor
0
states

Massachusetts does not honor any other states firearms license.

States that will not honor a Massachusetts LTC license
0
states

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming.

District
Washington D.C.


Overview of the Massachusetts LTC license

texas state flag
Massachusetts state flag
  • Issue policy - May Issue
  • Issued to - Residents & Non-Residents
  • License Fee - $100
  • License Valid - 6 years

Pistol license Overview

The Massachusetts License to Carry (LTC) is required for the purchase, possession and carrying of any large capacity handgun, shotgun, rifle and large capacity feeding devices. For most jurisdictions the issuing authority is the local police chief who has the discretion to issue a licence on the applicants suitability or stated need. If a license is denied then a written explanation must be given, the applicant can then file an appeal within 90 days. If applicants pass a background check and complete a firearms training course they are mostly issued a license. However, the issuing authority can place restrictions on the license. Restrictions are more common closer to the bigger cities such as Boston whereas the more rural towns are more inclined to issue an unrestricted license. There are seperate forms for resident and non-resident applications which both differ slightly in the filing process.

Non-Resident Licenses

Non-resident licenses are issued in Massachusetts however there are a few differences to a resident license.

  • All initial applications and must be made in person.
  • Non-resident licenses are only valid for 1 year.
  • You cannot make an application at local police stations. Instead all non-resident applications must be made at the Firearms Records Bureau in Chelsea.
  • You will need to book an appointment in advance of appearing for your license application.
  • An in person appearance at the firearms Records Bureau will only be required every 6 years for renewals. But you will still need to renew your license every year.

Restrictions
Non-resident licenses can have restrictions placed on them. This will depend on the information you supply in the application form.

  • NONE – the LTC is issued for all lawful purposes with no restrictions.
  • EMPLOYMENT – restricts possession to business owner engaged in business activities or to an employee while engaged in work related activities, and maintaining proficiency, where the employer requires carry of a firearm (i.e. armored car, security guard, etc.). Includes travel to and from activity location.
  • TARGET & HUNTING – restricts possession to the purpose of lawful recreational shooting or competition; for use in the lawful pursuit of game animals and birds; for personal protection in the home; and for the purpose of collecting (other than machine guns). Includes travel to and from activity location
  • SPORTING – restricts possession to the purpose of lawful recreational shooting or competition; for use in the lawful pursuit of game animals and birds; for personal protection in the home; for the purpose of collecting (other than machine guns); and for outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, camping, cross country skiing, or similar activities. Includes travel to and from activity location.
  • OTHER – Restrictions are based upon the information provided in the license application. Please ensure that you provide a detailed reason for requesting the issuance of a license in Massachusetts. Include information regarding how and where you intend to possess or use a firearm and your knowledge and training in Massachusetts firearms laws.

Any violation of these restrictions can result in the suspension or revocation of the license plus a $1,000 - $10,000 fine.

Non-resident LTC licenses are only issued to a non-resident, non-citizen for firearms competitions.

Handgun Training

All applicants for a Massachusetts firearms license must have completed a certified firearms safety course or a basic hunter education course. A list of approved courses can be found at the highlighted link.

Once the course has been completed the instructor will issue a certificate which will need to be produced when you make the application for a firearms license.


Requirements to qualify for a Massachusetts LTC license


How to apply for a Massachusetts LTC license

Follow these steps to obtain a permit;

Residents

  1. You will need to complete a firearms training course.
  2. Download the Residents Application in the forms section of this page.
  3. You will need to submit:
    • A complete resident firearms license application
    • The required application fee
    • A Massachusetts Basic Firearms Safety Course certificate
    • A form of identification
  4. You may need to submit:
    • Proof of residence
  5. You will then need to submit the application to the local police station in your town of residence.
  6. You will be notified within 40 days by mail if your application has been approved or denied.

Non-Residents

  1. You will need to complete a firearms training course.
  2. Download the Non-Residents Application in the forms section of this page.
  3. You will need:
    • A complete non-resident firearms license resident alien permit application.
    • The required application fee
    • A Massachusetts Basic Firearms Safety Course certificate
  4. You may need:
    • An in-person appearance
    • A visa or copy of immigration card
  5. Non-Residents will need to submit their application to the firearms Record bureau.
massachusetts ltc firearms license

How to renew your Massachusetts LTC license

renewing Massachusetts firearms licence
The renewal process in Massachusetts differs for residents and non-residents.

Resident Licence

  • Licence renewals for residents are processed through the local police station in the town you reside in.
  • The renewal process can take up to 60 days.
  • The licensing authority will conduct a federal and state background check, a finger print check and a check with the Department of Mental Health.
  • If you wish to qualify for a grace period you will need to submit a renewal application before the expiration date of your license.

Non-Resident License / Resident alien permit

  • To renew a non-resident license or resident alien permit you will need to submit your application to the Firearms Records Bureau.
  • The licensing authority will conduct a federal and state background check, a finger print check and a check with the Department of Mental Health.
  • There are no grace periods for Non-resident firearms licenses or resident alien permits.
  • All non-resident firearms licenses will expire 12 months from the date they are issued.

Renewal applications can be made in person or by mail for resident licenses, however, non-resident licenses can only be renewed via mail.

Mailing Address

Department of Criminal Justice Information Services
Firearms Records Bureau
200 Arlington St, Suite 2200
Chelsea, MA 02150

Status Check
If you wish to check on the current status of your renewal application you can call the number below. You will need tp have ready your full name, date of birth and drivers license number.

STATUS CHECK (617) 660-4722


Schedule of fee's for a Massachusetts LTC license

Application ConditionsOriginalRenewal
License to carry firearms$100$100
Resident alien permit$100$100
License to carry firearms (retired law enforcement officers)$25$25
Firearms Identification card$100$100
Firearms Identification card (if under 18 years old)$25$25
Non-Resident firearms license$100$100

Essential forms for a Massachusetts LTC license

texas ccw forms

All the forms you need for a Massachusetts handgun license can be found here.

Days to process
0
new license

Off-limit places in Massachusetts for carrying a firearm

oklahoma off limit areas for firearms Image
Places listed as off limits apply even if you have a Massachusetts license to carry.

Off-limits

  • Courthouses
  • Elementary or secondary school, college or university
  • Airports
  • Logan Airport security zone
  • When using off highway vehicle such as snowmobile
  • Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by Federal Law.

Allowed

  • State parks
  • State and national forests
  • Road side rest areas
  • Vehicle
  • All areas of the state - except those listed as off-limits

Massachusetts gun laws & statutes

massachusetts state capitol building
Massachusetts state capitol building
All the most important Massachusetts gun laws you should be aware of are listed below. Make yourself familiar with these laws before you carry a firearm.

Summary table

SubjectHandgunsLong GunsNotes
Concealed carry permit requiredYesNoPolicy is May Issue.
Purchase permit requiredYesYesCarry permit or FID (firearm identification) required.
Registration of firearmNoNo
Open carry allowedYesNoPermit required to open carry handguns. Open carry of long guns is illegal except when hunting.
Background checks on private gun sales requiredYesYesSeller is required to verify the purchasers FID card.
Magazine size restrictionYesYesMust not exceed 10 rounds.
Red flag lawYesYesFirearms can be temporarily confiscated.
Owner license requiredYesYesFID license required.

Rating of gun laws

Rates how friendly Massachusetts gun laws are compared to other states.
Poor

Massachusetts gun laws you need to know

Vehicle carry

(With no pistol license)

NO
The law states it is illegal to carry a loaded firearm of any type in a vehicle without a firearms license. If you have a Massachusetts LTC license then you can carry a loaded or unloaded handgun in a vehicle if the weapon is under your direct control.

Transporting Firearms
  • With LTC - This allows you to transport handguns in a motor vehicle, the handgun can be loaded or unloaded. There is no requirement for the handgun to be secured in a locked case or trunk.
  • Large Capacity Shotguns or Rifles - Even with a LTC license these weapons must be unloaded and secured in a locked container or the trunk of a motor vehicle.

All shotguns and rifles must be unloaded when on or in a motor vehicle and large capacity firearms must be in a secured container.

Large Capacity weapon definition 
  • Any semi-automatic rifle or handgun that can accept a feeding device that holds more than 10 rounds.
  • A shotgun that accepts more than 5 shotgun shells.
  • An assault weapon

Open carry

(With no pistol license)

NO

Without a LTC licence you certainly cannot open carry in Massachusetts. However, there is no law in Massachusetts that bans open carry if you have a LTC license. There was a Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling in 2013 that stated a LTC licence cannot be revoked if the person carrying the firearm causes alarm to other persons. Be aware though that open carry is not common in Massachusetts and is bound to draw unwanted attention and no doubt a few questions from the police.

So technically open carry is allowed by the absence of any law banning it and the Supreme Court ruling. But not advisable in this restrictive state unless you want to be a test case.

Must inform officer

(On contact by law)

NO

There is nothing in Massachusetts gun laws that state you must inform a law enforcement officer you have a firearm when approached on official business. The law does require you to carry your permit at all times during which the permittee is in actual possession of a concealed handgun and produce the license if requested to do so by law enforcement.

Part I. Title XX. Chpt. 140 - Notification to police of gun

State park carry

YES

It is legal to carry in the following areas;

State Parks:    YES  - 302 CMR 12.04
State/National Forests:    YES
State Game Management Units:    YES - 321 CMR 3.01
Road Side Rest Areas:   YES

No gun signs enforced

NO

“No Weapons” signs are not mentioned in Massachusetts gun laws. There are no legal penalties for entering a private property or business that has posted these signs. They have no force of law unless they are posted in areas that are mentioned in the law as being off limits.

GunsToCarry recommends that you do not enter a property displaying a “No Weapons” sign whether the law is for or against signage. If asked to leave a property and you refuse to do so then you are breaking the law and put yourself at risk of being charged.

Restaurant carry

YES

“Yes” or “No” states if you can carry in a restaurant that serves alcohol. Some restaurants may be posted with “NO GUN” signs. Check with the staff if this means just the bar area. If we have indicated a “Yes” then it should be legal to have a meal without drinking alcohol.

Constitutional carry

NO

There is no constitutional carry in Massachusetts.

"The people have a right to keep and 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."
(Pt. 1, art. 17)

Off-limit statutes


Other CCW statutes



History of Massachusetts gun laws

Image
Learn the history of the gun laws in Massachusetts from 1906 until today.

1906

Before 1906 there was no restrictions on owning or carrying handguns. A law enacted in 1906 said judges, police or mayors could authorize a person to carry a loaded handgun if there was good reason for the applicant to fear for injury to his person or property.
 

1922

Law enacted to license gun dealers and banned "unnaturalized foreign born" persons from having a license.
 

1925

Aliens and persons under the age of 15 are prohibited from having a license.
 

1926

Temporary licenses made available for unlicensed persons to purchase and possess a handgun in their home or place of business.
 

1927

Law enacted to punish the carrying of a handgun either loaded or unloaded with no distinction between open or concealed carry.
 

1968

Before 1968 no license was required to possess a handgun in your home or place of business. 1968 saw a law enacted that required persons to have a Firearms Identification card (FID) to possess a rifle, shotgun or handgun in his home or to carry a shotgun or rifle outside his home.
 

1975

One year mandatory sentence created for carrying any type of gun outside a home without the proper type of license.
 

1990

The 1975 law was changed by removing the word "carry" and replacing it with "possesses".
 

1998

Saw major changes to the gun laws. One change was that you could no longer possess a handgun in your home with just a FID card. Now with a FID card you could only possess the handgun on a licensed gun range. Before this new law in 1997 you could own a handgun, rifle or shotgun in your home or place of business and carry a rifle or shotgun (but not a handgun) outside your home with just a FID card.
 

2015

As of January 1, 2015 the state no longer issues the type A or B LTC license. There is now only one type of LTC license that is the same as the old type A license.
 

2018

Red flag law is enacted giving a judge the authority to order the confiscation of firearms if he thinks the owner is a threat to himself or others.
 

Massachusetts licensing offices

Image
The Firearms Records Bureau only deals with Non-resident LTC licenses. Residents of Massachusetts will need to apply at their local police station.

Firearms Records Bureau

Contact


Address 200 Arlington St.

CityChelsea, MA 02150

Phone (617) 660-4782

Hours


Monday – Friday 8am – 5pm

Saturday Closed

Sunday Closed


Frequently asked questions on Massachusetts gun laws


The research

Disclaimer

The information contained on this page is not legal advice but is merely a starting point for your own research. It is up to you to decide what the best course of action is for your circumstances. We are not lawyers, if you'd like individualized legal advice, we'd be happy to refer you to some law practices with known firearm specializations. It is crucial that you understand the law before you carry a firearm. Also, remember that just because a statute may clearly say one thing or another, that doesn't mean all members of law enforcement know it. That also goes for lawyers and even judges too.