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.
Read More: What Do I Need to Get a Gun License?
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.
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.