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 See our   Domestic Violence & Firearms    policy summary  for a comprehensive discussion of this issue. 

A 2014 Massachusetts law prohibits individuals convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition, however no law requires courts to notify these domestic abusers that they are prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under state or federal law.1 The same law also requires courts to transmit records of certain domestic violence offenses to the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (Department) for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).2

Massachusetts law also prohibits individuals who are currently subject to a permanent or temporary protection order protecting an adult or minor family or household member of the applicant from abuse from purchasing or possessing firearms.3 The term “family or household members” includes persons who:

  • Are or were married to one another;
  • Are or were residing together in the same household;
  • Are or were related by blood or marriage;
  • Have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together; or
  • Are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship, which shall be adjudged by consideration of the following factors:

– The length of time of the relationship;

– The type of relationship;

– The frequency of interaction between the parties; and

– If the relationship has been terminated by either person, the length of time elapsed since the termination of the relationship.4

Massachusetts law requires a court that is issuing a temporary or emergency protection order (an order that a court can issue immediately upon the filing of a complaint by a family or household member who seeks protection from abuse) to order the immediate suspension and surrender of any license to carry firearms or firearms identification card which the defendant may hold and order the defendant to surrender all firearms and ammunition which he or she possesses to the appropriate law enforcement official.5 However, this requirement only applies if the plaintiff demonstrates a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse.6

Upon issuing a suspension or surrender order, the court must report the defendant’s identifying information to the Department for inclusion in NICS.7 Law enforcement officials who are serving such orders must immediately take possession of all such firearms, ammunition, licenses, and identification cards.8

Massachusetts law requires any law enforcement officer who has reason to believe that a family or household member has been abused or is in danger of being abused to use all reasonable means to prevent further abuse.9 Massachusetts law does not, however, specifically authorize or require the law enforcement officer to remove firearms or ammunition in this situation.

  1. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 129B(1)(ii)(f); see also Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, §§ 129B; 131; ch. 265 § 13N.[]
  2. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 265 § 13N; see also Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 209A, § 3D.[]
  3. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 129B(1)(vii); see also Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131(d)(vi) (limiting issuance of a license to carry a firearm in the same manner); Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 209A, § 3 (authorizing issuance of a protection order against an adult or minor family or household member).[]
  4. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 209A, § 1.[]
  5. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 209A, § 3B.[]
  6. Id.[]
  7. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 209A, § 3D.[]
  8. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 209A, § 3B.[]
  9. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 209A, § 6.[]