A pellet gun, also known as an air gun or BB gun, shoots a projectile by means of compressed air. States differ in how they regulate pellet guns. A few states and municipalities regulate them the same as all firearms; other states lump them into the "dangerous weapons" category along with other weapons such as long knives and police batons. Massachusetts does neither. The only restriction on the possession of pellet guns in Massachusetts is age-related. Minors are not allowed to buy or sell pellet guns and cannot use them unless they are under the direct supervision of a parent, guardian or other responsible adult.
Use in Public Areas
Adults may freely own pellet guns in Massachusetts. They are not subject to any licensing or registration requirements, but shooting a pellet gun from or across public areas, including streets or roadways, is prohibited. Violations result in fines of up to $100 and confiscation of the weapon.
Generally, anyone under the age of 18 is restricted from possessing a pellet gun in Massachusetts. Minors who want to learn how to shoot can use a pellet gun at a licensed gun range, but they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and must be under direct adult supervision at all times.
A minor may also possess and use a pellet gun if she has a hunting and sporting license, and written permission from the chief of police in the city or town where she lives. She must keep these documents on her person at all times while hunting.
Parents are permitted to purchase pellet guns for their children. The law also exempts adult teachers or instructors who furnish the child with a pellet gun for the purposes of training or instruction in the use of the weapon. Anyone else who furnishes a minor with a pellet gun could face a fine of between $50 and $200 and up to six months in jail.
Massachusetts hunting regulations don't directly mention pellet guns or air guns. However, only specific firearms can be used to hunt large game. Pellet guns may be used to hunt small game and some birds. Hunters using pellet guns must follow all the other general hunting regulations in regard to hunting seasons and bag limits. All hunters in Massachusetts must have a hunting or sporting license. Hunters from out of state need either a small game or a big game license to hunt in Massachusetts. All hunters must wear a bright orange hat unless hunting at night.
Massachusetts only regulates pellet guns and other air guns with respect to age. You must be an adult 18 or over to own a pellet gun in Massachusetts. Minors are restricted from possessing an air gun unless under direct adult supervision.
Jennifer Mueller has a J.D. from the University of Indiana, Maurer School of Law. She has been sharing her legal knowledge on the internet since 2009. Mueller has been published in the Indiana Law Journal, and her writing appears on legal websites such as LegalZoom.