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Legal Information: Massachusetts

State Gun Laws

November 12, 2020

If the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?

Massachusetts state law says that you can only get a license to have or buy a gun if:

  • you have not been convicted of a felony;
  • you have not been convicted of a misdemeanor punishable by more than two years of imprisonment;
  • you have not been convicted of a violent crime; and
  • you have not been convicted of any weapons or drug-related offenses;
  • you are not a fugitive from justice; and
  • you are not subject to an outstanding arrest warrant.1

The conviction preventing a person from getting a firearm license could have happened in Massachusetts state court, in any other state’s court, or in federal court.2

Federal laws, which apply to all states, also restrict a person’s right to have a gun if s/he has been convicted of certain crimes. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

1 Mass. Gen. Laws 140 § 131(d)(i)
2 Mass. Gen. Laws 140 § 131(d)(ii)

How can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a crime?

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 What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?