Requirements for Obtaining a License to Possess a Machine Gun in the State of Massachusetts

By Kara Chance

A machine gun is a completely automatic firearm, either mounted or movable, generally designed so that it can fire bullets in quick repetition from either a large-capacity magazine or an ammunition belt. The rate at which a machine gun fires is typically more than a hundred rounds per minute. Because machine guns can be dangerous, Massachusetts has strict regulations that allow only a small group of people to obtain a machine-gun ownership license.

General Gun License

Before obtaining a machine gun license, a person must get a general license to own a weapon in Massachusetts from the Department of Public Safety. In order to apply for any gun license in Massachusetts, a person must have two references and be at least 18 years old. The applicant must also be willing to submit to a lengthy background check process. The background check will show whether or not a person has been convicted of a felony. Neither convicted felons, nor people on probation for misdemeanor violations, can obtain a gun license. Each applicant must pay an application fee and a background check fee before her license will be issued.

Massachusetts Class 3 License

After getting a regular license to own a weapon, an applicant will have to show a special need to own a machine gun. A prospective machine gun owner must send in a Class 3 license application. The Class III license is only issued for owners of machine guns. In order to get this license, a person has to show one of two special needs. First, a firearm instructor, who has been certified by the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Council, can apply for ownership of a machine gun as long as the sole purpose of ownership is for firearm instruction to police personnel. Second, a bona fide collector of firearms can receive a license.

Bona Fide Collector

If a person has not been certified by the Criminal Justice Training Council, he cannot own a machine gun unless he is a bona fide collector of firearms. A bona fide collector of firearms is a person who collects firearms for a lawful purpose, namely: research, historical significance, display, demonstration, or investment. Legal uses that will not qualify someone as a bona fide collector are sporting, hunting or for use as an offensive or defensive weapon. When applying for a Class III license, a person should provide evidence of his status as a bona fide collector, either by providing a business or professional license, or by providing statements from credible persons about his interest in collecting weaponry for legitimate purposes.

About the Author

Based in San Francisco, Kara Chance is currently a researcher and legal assistant. She started writing professionally in 2002, and her articles have appeared in "Business Wire," "Ecology Law Quarterly" and the "Daily O'Collegian." She has a Master of Arts in English from University College-Dublin, and a Bachelor of Arts in literature from Oklahoma State University.