Posted on January 2, 2012
Last updated April 5, 2012
In our publication Gun Laws Matter 2012: Understanding the Link Between Weak Laws and Gun Violence, the Law Center ranked each state based on a review of state laws in 29 different firearms-related policy areas. Massachusetts ranked 3rd out of 50 – having enacted some of the strongest gun violence prevention laws in the nation. Among other things, Massachusetts:
- Requires any person who sells, rents or leases a firearm to obtain a state dealer license (unlicensed sellers may transfer no more than 4 firearms per year);
- Bans most assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines, but not 50 caliber rifles;
- Requires all firearm purchasers to obtain a license, and report any lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement;
- Prohibits the sale of “unsafe handguns” not on the roster of approved handguns; and
- Maintains permanent records of firearm sales.
However, Massachusetts does not:
- Require the reporting of mentally ill individuals to the federal database used for firearm purchaser background checks;
- Limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time;
- Impose a waiting period on firearm purchases, although the purchaser must hold a valid license; or
- Require unlicensed firearm sellers to conduct a background check on the purchaser, although they must ensure that the purchaser holds a license.
Local governments in Massachusetts retain authority to regulate firearms and ammunition, and the local licensing authority in Massachusetts has discretion in determining whether to issue a license to carry a firearm.
In 2009, Massachusetts had the lowest number of gun deaths per capita among the states. 207 people died from firearm-related injuries in Massachusetts in that year. According to data published by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the national crime gun export rate is almost four times the crime gun export rate in Massachusetts. The portion of crime guns that enter Massachusetts from other states is more than twice the national average. Massachusetts imports 2.9 times as many crime guns as it exports.
Massachusetts Firearms Laws
For details about specific firearms laws in Massachusetts, choose a topic below, or see all of the firearms laws in this state.