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 See our Firearm Prohibitions policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue. 

 Federal law prohibits certain persons from purchasing or possessing firearms, such as felons, certain domestic abusers, and certain people with a history of mental illness.

Massachusetts requires any person who wishes to purchase or possess a firearm to obtain a Firearm Identification Card (FID).1 FID cards may not be issued to any person who:2

  • Has been convicted of (or who was adjudicated as a youthful offender or delinquent child for the commission of) a:
    • Felony;
    • Misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for more than two years;
    • Misdemeanor crime of domestic violence as defined in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(33);
    • Violent crime as defined by Massachusetts law (Under Massachusetts law, “Violent crime” means any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year (or any act of juvenile delinquency involving the use or possession of a deadly weapon that would be punishable by imprisonment for such term if committed by an adult), that: (i) has as an element the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force or a deadly weapon against the person of another; (ii) is burglary, extortion, arson or kidnapping; (iii) involves the use of explosives; or (iv) otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious risk of physical injury to another.” Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 121.));
    • Violation of any law regulating the use, possession, ownership, transfer, purchase, sale, lease, rental, receipt or transportation of weapons or ammunition for which a term of imprisonment may be imposed; or
    • Violation of any law regulating the use, possession or sale of controlled substances.
  • Is or has been committed to a hospital or institution for mental illness, alcohol or substance abuse;
  • Is or has been under the appointment of a guardian or conservator on the grounds that he or she lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his or her affairs;
  • Is an alien who does not maintain lawful permanent residency;
  • Is under 15 years of age, or is between the ages of 15-17 and does not have a certificate demonstrating his or her parent or guardian’s consent to obtain a FID card;
  • Is currently subject to orders for suspension or surrender of firearms because of domestic abuse, or permanent or temporary protection orders, including Extreme Risk Protection Orders;
  • Has been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces of the United States;
  • Is a fugitive from justice;
  • Has renounced his or her United States citizenship; or
  • Is currently the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant in any state or federal jurisdiction.3

For information about the 2014 law that allows law enforcement agencies to seek the denial or suspension of a firearms license to a person who poses a risk to public safety, see the Massachusetts Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers section. For information on the background check process used to enforce these provisions, see the Massachusetts Background Checks section.

  1. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 129C.[]
  2. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 129B.[]
  3. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, §§ 129B, 131, 131F; ch. 123 § 35.[]