Massachusetts Concealed Carry Is Heavily Regulated
Current Massachusetts concealed carry laws are among the most restrictive in New England, as the state heavily regulates whom is allowed to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights outside of the home. As a result, gun rights activists have long accused Massachusetts as being one of the most unfriendly states for firearms owners.
That is, based on how gun rights activists see the issue.
Concealed carry in Massachusetts means obtaining a Class A license
Concealed carry in Massachusetts is heavily regulated. It’s only accessible for those with the appropriate licensing. Getting the license is a battle in its own right.
There are two different categories for firearms licenses in Massachusetts: a firearms identification card (FID) and a license to carry (LTC).
There’s a difference between the two, and only one plays into carrying a concealed handgun. This is not formal legal advice and the potential concealed carrier should heavily research Massachusetts state laws and regulations before pulling the trigger on an application.
The FID permits the purchase, possession and transportation of non-large-capacity rifles, shotguns and ammunition. The LTC is broken into two classes: Class A and Class B.
The Class B LTC was eliminated in the August 2014 changes to Massachusetts gun laws, but all circulating Class B licenses are deemed valid.
Each has its own regulated practices, but a Class A LTC is the only license that allows concealed carry in Massachusetts.
Residents may apply for a Class A LTC, valid for six years, through their local police department. The local authorities will provide all the relevant forms and information, but the process starts with the Massachusetts FID-LTC application.
The resident Class A LTC costs $100. First-time applicants must complete either a state-approved firearms training course, which usually last about one day, or a basic hunter education course.
An LTC applicant must list a rationale (target and hunting, sporting, employment or unrestricted) for needing a weapon -- an egregious request for many gun owners. The Second Amendment may seem all-encompassing, but in Massachusetts there are filters.
An unrestricted LTC will require the applicant to list a reason for applying. Personal defense is often a go-to in a state with 406.4 violent crimes per 100,000 people, according to a 2013-2014 FBI crime rate report.
Applicants will receive word within 40 days whether or not their permit was approved.
Applicants may check on the status of their application by calling the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Services at (617) 660-4722.
The Gun Owners Action League, a members-supported Massachusetts gun rights organization, provides a list of approved instructors in counties across the state.
Non-residents may apply for a license to carry, however the process is more restricted. The Colonel of the State Police, his or her designee and the Massachusetts Firearms Records Bureau issues non-resident applicants’ licenses.
The Firearms Records Bureau can be reached at (617) 660-4780. Non-resident licenses are temporary.
Massachusetts LTC reciprocity can be reviewed on our concealed carry reciprocity map.
LTC renewals are fairly straightforward. Submit the renewal application -- located on the same form as the new LTC application -- prior to the expiration date. There is no additional training necessary for the renewal. The license will remain valid during the review process.
The lifespan of the Massachusetts gun license application process
So, the potential gun owner now knows a good deal of the bureaucratic minutiae of applying for a Massachusetts concealed carry license, but what happens behind closed doors?
Officials conduct a background check after the license application is submitted to a licensing authority, fingerprints are processed, license information is entered into the Massachusetts Instant Record Check System, the applicant’s photo is taken and a firearms licensing official interviews the applicant.
Licensing officials contact the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health for state hospital commitments. State and national criminal background checks are conducted. Those fingerprints are also scanned in a database to match any potential recorded crime.
All relevant information is then processed. If denied, the applicant will receive written notice and a formal reason. That denial, in some cases, may be petitioned.
Within 90 days after denial, or immediately after the 40 day review period, submit a petition request if the application was denied because of a misdemeanor conviction resulting in imprisonment for two years. The FLRB only has authority to review misdemeanor convictions.
The FLRB will not review any petitions for convictions related to domestic violence, weapons crime and controlled substances. They also won’t consider petitions from applicants who have felonious charges, were convicted of multiple misdemeanors (unless they all arose from a singular incident), have other charges beyond the misdemeanor that denied the application or were denied on the grounds of suitability not eligibility.
Yes, the LTC process is subject to the applicant’s suitability for a permit -- which arises from the rationale provided on the application and the interview after submitting it.
If the petition is reviewed and accepted, Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services recommends submitting a few key pieces of documentation prior to the petition hearing where the applicant may argue their case. Those documents are: a summarized statement about why candidacy is valid, certified copies of conviction charges, a full list of witnesses to speak on the applicant’s behalf, firearm training certifications, letters of recommendation and the arrest report for the misdemeanor conviction.
After all that, the potential concealed carrier should make a clear case as to why prior criminal offenses do not make them a menace.
Law-abiding citizens come in all shapes and sizes, even those recovering from personal and legal shortcomings.
Massachusetts gun laws to take into consideration
Recently in 2014, legislature altered Massachusetts gun laws, as previously mentioned with Class B licenses being phased out.
- Those committed for specific mental health reasons, for alcohol or substance use disorder or for guardianship appointment may submit a petition for a license after five years.
- More data must be submitted to the National Instant Check System concerning crime, mental health, dangerous persons and domestic violence.
- Massachusetts licensed gun dealers must conduct criminal background checks on all employees, and they must post information about suicide awareness and prevention.
- All personal sales of firearms (a limit of four per year between those lawfully licensed, according the Firearms Records Bureau) must be recorded within the Massachusetts Gun Transaction Portal.
- The licensing authorities may petition a district court to deny an FID on grounds of applicant unsuitability.
- Active duty military personnel no longer need a basic firearm training course when applying for an LTC.
- Licensing authorities must track and record all data about any firearms used in crimes.
Cutting through legal noise can be a struggle, but being an informed citizen directly transfers to being a responsible gun owner.
Massachusetts gun licenses are on the rise, despite regulation
According to a 2016 Boston Globe report, over the prior five years there was a 44 percent increase in Massachusetts gun licenses from 104,150 to 342,622 total Class A LTCs.
And from 2015 to 2016 there was a 7.8 percent increase by approximately 24,700 licenses, according to the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services.
More people are carrying for lawful reasons in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Owning a gun is a life choice with serious consequences that must be analyzed thoroughly. The good a firearm can do through protection is unfortunately weighed down by the perception generated by those who misuse them.
Carry responsibly and legally, no matter the barriers lawful gun owners face.
Now that you know everything about concealed carrying in Massachusetts make sure to check out our quality iwb holsters to hold your firearm.
About The Author
Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter in his final year of studying public relations and apparel at the University of Idaho.