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Legal Information: Massachusetts

State Gun Laws

Updated: 
August 28, 2018

I have a temporary abuse prevention order against the abuser. Can his/her gun be taken away?

Under Massachusetts state law, the judge can order the immediate suspension of the abuser’s license to carry firearms and firearm identification card as part of an ex parte or emergency abuse prevention order if the person requesting the order shows that there is a “substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse.” In addition, unlike in other states, Massachusetts law clearly states that when law enforcement serves the abuse prevention order, summons, and complaint upon the defendant, the defendant must immediately hand over (surrender) all of the following to law enforcement:

  • his/her license to carry firearms;
  • his/her firearms identification card; and
  • all firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, and ammunition that s/he controls, owns, or possesses.1

      The defendant does have the right to petition the court to ask the judge to reconsider the order for suspension and surrender. The issue would then be set down for a hearing within ten business days after the abuser files the petition. However, if the defendant files an affidavit with the petition in which s/he explains that a firearm, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, or ammunition is required for his/her job, s/he can request that the hearing be held within two business days.2 You will be notified of the hearing and have an opportunity to be present.

      1 Mass. Gen. Laws 209A §§ 3B; 7
      2 Mass. Gen. Laws 209A § 3B

      I have an abuse prevention order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?

      Under Massachusetts state law, a person cannot get or have a license to carry or possess any firearm if s/he is subject to a final abuse prevention order or an extreme risk protection order issued in Massachusetts or another state.1

      In addition, if the judge believes that there is a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse, the judge is supposed to order the immediate suspension of the abuser’s license to carry firearms and firearm identification card as part of your temporary ex parte order or emergency order.2 If the judge does not issue an ex parte or emergency order, or if the judge does not include this order for suspension and surrender, be sure to ask for it in the hearing for your final abuse prevention order.

      In addition, unlike in other states, Massachusetts law clearly states that when law enforcement serves the abuse prevention order, summons, and complaint upon the defendant, the defendant must immediately hand over (surrender) all of the following to law enforcement:

      • his/her license to carry firearms;
      • his/her firearms identification card; and
      • all firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns and ammunition that s/he controls, owns, or possesses.2

      The defendant does have the right to petition the court to ask the judge to reconsider the order for suspension and surrender. The issue would then be set down for a hearing within ten business days after the the abuser files the petition. However, if the defendant files an affidavit with the petition in which s/he explains that a firearm, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, or ammunition is required for his/her job, s/he can request that the hearing be held within two business days.3 You will be notified of the hearing and have an opportunity to be present.

      Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict a person’s right to have a gun under certain circumstances. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

      1 Mass. Gen. Laws 140 § 131(d)(vi)
      2 Mass. Gen. Laws 209A §§ 3B; 7
      3 Mass. Gen. Laws 209A § 3B

      Is there anything I can do to make it more likely that the abuser's gun is taken away when I get an abuse prevention order?

      Depending on the judge in your case, there may be some things you can do to increase the chances that the judge will require that an abuser’s guns are taken away. Keep in mind these tips may or may not result in the outcome that you are hoping for. Every judge is different. However, here are a few suggestions that may help:

      • If the abuser has a gun, tell the judge how many guns s/he has, and if s/he has ever shown you the guns or displayed them as a way to intimidate you and maintain control over you.
      • Ask the judge to specifically write in your protective order that the abuser cannot own, buy or have a gun while the order is in effect. The form that you will have to fill out to petition for a protective order will have a place where you can request additional protections. You can ask that the abuser’s gun(s) be taken away in that section.
      • It also may be helpful if the judge explains what will happen to the abuser’s guns, who will take them, and where they will be held once you leave the courthouse. If the judge agrees to add language that the abuser cannot keep his/her guns while the protection order is in effect, you may also want to ask that the judge:
        • require the abuser to give his/her guns to the police, or require the police to go to the abuser’s house and get them;
        • make it clear to both you and the abuser how long the guns will be kept away from the abuser; and
        • order that the police notify you when the guns are returned to the abuser.
      • If the gun restriction is granted, check to make sure that it is written on your order before leaving the courthouse.