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Child Access Prevention & Safe Storage

Massachusetts has a safe storage law. Pursuant to Massachusetts law, it is generally unlawful to store or keep any firearm:

[U]nless such weapon is secured in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device, properly engaged so as to render such weapon inoperable by any person other than the owner or other lawfully authorized user. For purposes of this section, such weapon shall not be deemed stored or kept if carried by or under the control of the owner or other lawfully authorized user.1

Massachusetts law specifies different penalties for violations of this requirement, depending on the type of firearm, and also depending on whether the firearm was kept or stored in a place where a minor could foreseeably gain unlawful access to the firearm. The law provides stiffer penalties for violating their safe storage requirement if the firearm was stored or kept in a place where a person under 18 (who does not possess a valid Firearm Identification Card in the case of a rifle or shotgun that is not a large capacity weapon) may have access to the firearm without committing an unforeseeable trespass.2

Firearms dealers must conspicuously post at each purchase counter the following warning in bold type of not less than one inch in height: “IT IS UNLAWFUL TO STORE OR KEEP A FIREARM, RIFLE, SHOTGUN OR MACHINE GUN IN ANY PLACE UNLESS THAT WEAPON IS EQUIPPED WITH A TAMPER-RESISTANT SAFETY DEVICE OR IS STORED OR KEPT IN A SECURELY LOCKED CONTAINER.” Dealers must also provide the warning in writing to the transferee of any firearm in bold type not less than one-quarter inch in height.3

Any handgun or large capacity weapon sold in Massachusetts without a safety device designed to prevent discharge by unauthorized users is considered defective and the sale of such a weapon shall constitute a breach of warranty and an unfair or deceptive trade act or practice.4 The Department of State Police has approved a list of such devices.

In addition, Massachusetts deems it an unfair or deceptive business practice to transfer or offer to transfer any handgun that does not contain a mechanism which precludes an average five year old child from operating a handgun when it is ready to fire. Such mechanisms may include, but are not limited to, a raised trigger resistance, alteration of the firing mechanism so that a child’s hands are too small to operate it, or the requirement of multiple motions in order to fire the weapon. It is also an unfair or deceptive trade practice to transfer or offer to transfer a handgun that does not contain a load indicator or magazine safety disconnect.5


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  1. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131L.[]
  2. Ch. 140, § 131L(c); 131L(d).[]
  3. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 123 (Fourteenth).[]
  4. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131K.[]
  5. 940 Mass. Code Regs. 16.05. Please see 940 Mass. Code Regs. 16.05, 16.06 and 16.07 for additional handgun locking device requirements.[]