Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2021 ‘Gun Dealers in Massachusetts.’ Gun Sales. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 14 May
Dealer Regulations in Massachusetts
Federal law requires firearms dealers to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), although resource limitations prevent the ATF from properly overseeing all its licensees.
Massachusetts law requires any person who sells, rents, or leases a firearm to possess a Massachusetts firearms dealer license. This requirement does not apply to an unlicensed Massachusetts resident who transfers "not more than four" firearms in any one calendar year, so long as both the buyer and the seller have the proper cards, permits or licenses to possess or purchase firearms, and the seller reports the sale to the state.
A city or town police department ("licensing authority") may, after an investigation into the criminal history of the applicant, grant a firearms dealer license to any person except:
- An alien;
- A minor (under 18 years of age) (note, however, that the licensing authority requests an applicant's Federal Firearms License (FFL) during the background investigation of an applicant for a state license, and federal law requires that an applicant for a FFL be at least 21 years of age);
- A person who has been adjudicated a "youthful offender," including those who have not received an adult sentence; or
- A person who has been convicted of a felony, or of the unlawful use, possession or sale of narcotic or harmful drugs.
Every license must specify the street and number of the building where the business will be located. A firearms dealer's business must not be located in a residence or dwelling and must be in the location identified on the license. The licensing authority is required to submit one copy of an applicant's fingerprints to the department of state police, who must, within a reasonable period of time, advise the licensing authority in writing of any criminal record of the applicant. The licensing authority must also send a copy of the application to the commissioner of the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services.
Under federal law, federally licensed firearms dealers must conduct background checks on prospective purchasers each time the dealer transfers a firearm. Massachusetts also requires that dealers verify the validity of a potential transferee's license prior to transferring a firearm…
The licensing authority is required to conduct, and a dealer must submit to, one mandatory records and inventory inspection per year and a dealer's records must be open to inspection by law enforcement "at all times."
A firearms dealer must not display any firearm in any outer window or in any place where it can be readily seen from the outside…
Any dealer who loses a firearm or has a firearm stolen must report the loss or theft "forthwith" to the licensing authority and the executive director of the criminal history systems board. The report must include a complete description of the weapon, including the make, model, serial number, caliber and whether such weapon is a "large capacity weapon." ("Large capacity" includes assault weapons and most firearms capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition or more than five shotgun shells (either directly, or via a large capacity feeding device)).
Massachusetts law prohibits any person from selling or furnishing a rifle, shotgun, machine gun or ammunition to any person under age 18 or selling or furnishing a handgun or large capacity rifle or shotgun or ammunition for those firearms to anyone under age 21.
Any person selling firearm ammunition in Massachusetts must possess a license to do so. This license - distinct from a firearms dealer license - is subject to the same basic conditions as the dealer license. Once issued, both license types expire three years from the date of issuance…
[Editor's note: The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence regularly updates its webpages with new data as US gun regulation evolves state by state. For the most up-to-date information on US gun laws, please refer to the Giffords URL below]