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Know the Laws: Massachusetts

UPDATED November 28, 2016

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WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get in touch with a domestic violence advocate in your community for more information on gun laws in your area.  To find an advocate or ogranization in your area please visit the MA State and Local Programs page under the Where to Find Help tab on the top of this page.

Guns and Criminal Convictions

back to topIf the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony, can s/he keep or buy a gun?

No. Under Federal law, if your abuser has been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor, s/he cannot have or buy a gun.*  If you're not sure if s/he has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, see What crimes are considered domestic violence misdemeanors?

In addition, MA state law says that if you have been convicted of a felony, a misdemeanor punishable by more than 2 years of jail time, a violent crime, or any weapons or drug-related offenses, you cannot have or buy a gun.**  

* 18 USC 922 § (g)(9)
** Mass. Gen. Laws 140 § 131

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back to topHow can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony?

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access.  If you know the exact courthouse where the abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records.

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS. Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.

To read more about the NICS, please see the question, What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

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back to topIf a law enforcement officer or other government employee is convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, can s/he have or buy a gun?

No.  Law enforcement officers and other government officials who have been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony cannot have or buy guns for any purpose, including their official duties, according to federal law.* 

* 18 USC § 925(a)(1)

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