Legal Information: Massachusetts

State Gun Laws

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November 28, 2016

I am a victim of domestic violence and the abuser has a gun. Is that legal?

It depends.  In order to apply for a license to possess or carry firearms in Massacusetts, the applicant must live or work in Massachusetts.  Also, Massachusetts state law says that cannot have or buy a gun if s/he has been:

  • convicted (or adjudicated a "youthful offender" or "delinquent child") of any of the following either in Massachusetts or in another state:
    • a felony;
    • a misdemeanor punishable by jail time of more than 2 years;
    • a "violent crime" (defined here);
    • a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (defined here); or
    • any weapons offense or drug-related offense;
  • has been committed to a hospital/institution for mental illness, alcohol or substance abuse (unless after 5 years from the date of the confinement, the applicant submits an affidavit of a licensed physician or clinical psychologist to say the person's condition is not one that should prevent firearm possession);
  • is subject to an order from the probate court appointing a guardian/conservator on his/her behalf due to lacking mental capacity;
  • was committed to treatment by a court due to being a drug addict or alcoholic;
  • is under age 21;
  • is an undocumented immigrant, an "alien who does not maintain lawful permanent residency," or was a citizen of the United States but has renounced that citizenship;
  • is currently subject to an order for suspension and surrender of firearms license as part of a temporary or ex parte abuse prevention order or is subject to a final abuse prevention order issued in Massachusetts or another state; or
  • has been discharged from the armed forces of the United States under dishonorable conditions;
  • is a fugitive from justice; or
  • is subject to an outstanding arrest warrant.*

In addition, if you have an abuse prevention order against the abuser, or if the abuser has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor, then federal law states that it is illegal for the abuser to buy, own or have a gun in his/her possession.**  There are certain requirements that your abuse prevention order (209A Order) must meet for it to qualify under federal law - see here for more information.  Also, if you are not sure if the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, see What crimes are considered domestic violence misdemeanors?  To read the definition of a felony, see What is the definition of a felony?

* Mass. Gen. Laws 140 § 131(d)
** 18 USC § 922(g)(8),(9)