While the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the rights of individuals to keep and bear arms, if you want to purchase, possess and carry certain firearms in Massachusetts, you must get a license. If you are interested in owning or using only non-large capacity rifles or shotguns, you can file an application for a firearm identification, or FID, card.
FID Card Overview
A firearm identification card is a type of gun license in Massachusetts. Specifically, the card allows you to purchase, posses and carry non-large capacity rifles, shotguns and ammunition. Non-large capacity means that the firearm is not semi-automatic, a handgun, a rifle capable of accepting more than 10 rounds, an assault weapon, or a shotgun capable of accepting more than five shells. The state also recognizes a restricted FID card that authorizes you to purchase, possess and carry pepper spray and mace. These licenses are different from two other types of Massachusetts gun licenses that apply to concealed handguns and large capacity firearms.
To be eligible for an FID card in Massachusetts, you must be at least 15 years old and a resident of the state. You cannot have any convictions for violent crimes or violations of any drug laws. If you were convicted of another crime, you must wait at least five years from the date of your release or the end of your probationary period before you can obtain a card. You also cannot have any outstanding warrants or existing restraining orders. Further, if you were confined to a hospital for a mental illness, you submit appropriate paperwork from your physician to obtain an FID card.
Unless you are applying for the restricted FID card, you must complete a basic firearm safety course approved by the state. You can find a list of approved courses from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security website. You must apply for the card through your local police department, which will provide the forms that you must complete. You must also pay a fee and have an interview. You may need to bring written references from non-family members who can vouch for your character, as well as a document to verify your residence, such as a utility bill. You will also be photographed and fingerprinted.
After you submit your application, your fingerprints are sent to the state police for verification within seven days. That office then has up to 30 days to authorize or deny your request -- and you should receive your license within two to six weeks. If you do not receive any response within this time frame, you should assume that your request was denied. You may appeal a license denial in writing by filing a petition with your local district court within 90 days.
Wayne Thomas earned his J.D. from Penn State University and has been practicing law since 2008. He has experience writing about environmental topics, music and health, as well as legal issues. Since 2011, Thomas has also served as a contributing editor for the "Vermont Environmental Monitor."