In the commonwealth of Massachusetts, those who wish to purchase, possess or transport firearms, ammunition or feeding devices must have a firearms license. Their local police department is the licensing authority. Nonresidents can apply for a license to carry firearms through the state Firearms Records Bureau.
The kind of license they need will depend on the kind of gun they have – to own or use non-large capacity rifles or shotguns, they need a firearm identification (FID) card.
Types of Firearm Licenses in Massachusetts
Massachusetts has two types of licenses for firearms; which license an individual applies for depends on the kind of gun they wish to possess:
- Firearms Identification Card (FID) allows state residents to purchase, possess and transport non-large-capacity shotguns, rifles and ammunition.
- License to Carry (LTC) allows state residents to purchase, possess, transport and carry large- and non-large-capacity handguns, shotguns, rifles, ammunition and feeding devices. It also permits owners to carry loaded or unloaded concealed handguns.
The state defines large-capacity firearms as semi-automatic handguns or rifles capable of shooting more than 10 rounds or semi-automatic shotguns capable of more than five shells. Assault weapons also fall under this category. However, a rifle with a fixed tubular magazine that can only operate with .22 caliber ammunition is not under the definition of a large-capacity firearm.
Massachusetts does not require individuals to have a license to own primitive long guns or ammunition, but they need a firearms license when buying ammunition.
FID Card Application Process
Any police department in Massachusetts is a firearm licensing authority – it has all the forms and information a resident needs to apply for a license. FID applicants must be at least 18 years old. (Ages 14 to 17 can apply with parental consent; 14-year-olds can apply but will not get a card until they turn 15.)
Applicants must pass a state and federal background check, a check with the state Department of Mental Health, and a fingerprint background check. The police department will notify applicants of approval of their application.
Applicants must submit a firearms safety course certificate with their application form.
Fees Required for Firearms Permit Application
The application fee for an FID card is $100 for those at least 18 years old and $25 for applicants under 18 years of age. Each municipality will have its own rules for how to pay the fees when submitting a completed application. The Town of Rockland accepts payment by check or money order.
The card is valid for six years. Applicants must request a renewal before their current license expires. During that time, their license remains valid.
Documents for Applying for an FID Card
When applying for a resident FID card, applicants must submit a resident firearms license application, the application fee, and a certificate showing they passed the Massachusetts Basic Firearms Safety Course. They may also need to show proof of residence.
Nonresidents can apply for a Non-Resident Firearm License or a Resident Alien Permit, which they can get through the Firearms Records Bureau. They must submit their application, the application fee and a certificate showing they passed the Massachusetts Basic Firearms Safety Course. They also may need to show a copy of their immigration card or make an in-person appearance at the Firearms Records Bureau.
If applying by mail, resident firearms license applications can be sent to the applicant's local licensing authority. Nonresident licenses and resident alien permit applications must be sent to the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services, Firearms Records Bureau, 200 Arlington Street, Suite 2200, Chelsea, MA 02150. License processing can take up to 90 days for nonresidents.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.