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Legal Information: Massachusetts

State Gun Laws

November 12, 2020

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