Massachusetts

Massachusetts Law

Massachusetts Domestic Violence Firearm Purchase and Possession Prohibitions

Massachusetts issues three types of licenses for gun purchasers and owners:

  1. Firearm Identification Card (“FID card”);
  2. Permit to purchase, rent, or lease;
  3. License to carry.

An FID card enables an individual to purchase or possess only rifles and shotguns that are not considered “large capacity” weapons and feeding devices for long guns that are not “large capacity” weapons.1

An individual who has an FID card and a “permit to purchase, rent, or lease” may purchase a handgun, handgun feeding device, or short-barreled shotgun or rifle.2

A Class A license to carry enables an individual to purchase, rent, lease, borrow, possess, and carry (i) firearms, including large capacity firearms, and feeding devices and ammunition for large and non-large capacity firearms; and (ii) rifles and shotguns, including large capacity weapons, and feeding devices and ammunition for large and non-large capacity weapons.3

A Class B license to carry enables an individual to purchase, rent, lease, borrow, possess, and carry (i) non-large capacity firearms and feeding devices and ammunition for non-large capacity firearms; and (ii) rifles and shotguns, including large capacity weapons, and feeding devices and ammunition for large and non-large capacity weapons.4

An FID card or a license to carry shall not be issued to a person who, among other things:

  1. Has ever, in a court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or in any other state or federal jurisdiction, been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence;5
  2. Is currently subject to a permanent or temporary abuse protection order or a similar order issued by another jurisdiction, including an order described in 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(8).6*

MASSACHUSETTS CIVIL DOMESTIC ABUSE PROTECTION ORDER FIREARM REMOVAL

Domestic Abuse Protection Orders that Require Removal

A court issuing a temporary or emergency domestic abuse protection order shall order the immediate suspension and surrender of any license to carry firearms or FID card which the defendant may hold and order the defendant to surrender all firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, and ammunition which they control, own, or possess if the plaintiff demonstrates a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse.7

Individuals Who May File a Complaint for a Domestic Abuse Protection Order

A person suffering from abuse from a family or household member may file a complaint for a domestic abuse protection order.8

“Abuse” is defined as “the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members:

  1. Attempting to cause or causing physical harm;
  2. Placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm;
  3. Causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat, or duress.”9

“Family or household member” is defined as persons who:

  1. Are or were married to one another;
  2. Are or were residing together in the same household;
  3. Are or were related by blood or marriage;
  4. Have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together; or
  5. Are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship, which shall be judged by the court’s consideration of the following factors:
    1. The length of time of the relationship;
    2. The type of relationship;
    3. The frequency of interaction between the parties; and
    4. If the relationship has been terminated by either person, the length of time elapsed since the termination of the relationship.10

Removal Process

If the plaintiff demonstrates a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse, a court issuing a temporary or emergency domestic abuse protection order shall order the immediate surrender of any license to carry firearms and FID card which the defendant may hold and order the defendant to surrender all firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, and ammunition which they control, own, or possess to the appropriate law enforcement officials.11

A law enforcement officer, upon service of a temporary or emergency domestic abuse protection order that requires surrender, shall immediately take possession of all firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, ammunition, any license to carry firearms, and any FID card in the control, ownership, or possession of the defendant.12

An FID card and license to carry firearms shall be revoked or suspended if the license holder becomes subject to a domestic abuse protection order.13 Upon revocation or suspension of the license, the licensing authority shall take possession of the license and the defendant shall “. . . without delay deliver or surrender to the licensing authority where the person resides all firearms, rifles, shotguns and machine guns and ammunition which the person then possesses[.]”14 After taking possession, the licensing authority may transfer possession of any firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, and ammunition to a licensed firearms dealer for storage purposes.15 The licensed firearms dealer shall issue a receipt to the person who surrendered the firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, and ammunition.16 At any time up to 1 year after surrender, the person who surrendered or the person’s legal representative shall have the right to transfer the firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, and ammunition to a licensed dealer or any other person legally permitted to take possession of the aforementioned objects.17 Upon notification in writing by the purchaser and the former owner, the licensing authority shall within 10 days deliver the firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, and ammunition to the transferee or purchaser.18

Upon the continuation or modification of a temporary domestic abuse protection order, the court shall order or continue to order the immediate suspension and surrender of any license to carry firearms and FID card which the defendant may hold and order the defendant to surrender all firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, and ammunition which they control, own, or possess if the court determines that the return of any license to carry firearms, FID card, or firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns or ammunition presents a likelihood of abuse to the plaintiff.

Fees for Storage

A licensed firearms dealer may charge a reasonable fee for storage of surrendered firearms.19

Return of Firearms to Defendant

Firearms and licenses removed pursuant to a domestic abuse protection order “. . . shall be returned to the owner upon the renewal or reinstatement of such expired or suspended license within one year of such confiscation[.]”20

Guidelines promulgated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Public Safety and Security state that firearms and licenses removed pursuant to a domestic abuse protection order “may not be returned until the order has been completely vacated or the firearms provision modified by order of the court.”21

Penalties for Violations

Any violation of an order to surrender all firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, ammunition, any license to carry firearms, and any FID card in the control, ownership, or possession of the defendant shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000, by imprisonment for not more than 2 and ½ years in a house of correction, or both.22

This page was updated September 4, 2020. Please note that data used are the most recent available data.