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 See our Machine Guns  policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue. 

Generally, no person may carry or possess a machine gun in Massachusetts without a specially issued machine gun license. The licensing authority or the colonel of state police may issue a machine gun license to: (a) a firearm instructor certified by the municipal police training committee for the sole purpose of firearm instruction to police personnel; or (b) a bona fide collector of firearms upon application or upon application for renewal of such license.1 Massachusetts law also prohibits the sale or transfer of a machine gun to anyone who does not hold a machine gun license.2

“Machine gun” is defined as “a weapon of any description, by whatever name known, loaded or unloaded, from which a number of shots or bullets may be rapidly or automatically discharged by one continuous activation of the trigger, including a submachine gun[.]”3 In 2017, Massachusetts also expanded this definition to specifically include “bump stock” and “trigger crank” devices.4 This new legislation also prevents machine gun license holders from possessing bump stocks and trigger cranks.5

Massachusetts was the first state to enact new bump stock restrictions after the October 2017 Las Vegas shooting, in which a gunman used multiple bump fire devices to perpetrate the deadliest mass shooting attack in modern history. Massachusetts defines a “bump stock” as “any device for a weapon that increases the rate of fire achievable with such weapon by using energy from the recoil of the weapon to generate a reciprocating action that facilitates repeated activation of the trigger,”6 and defines a “trigger crank” as “any device to be attached to a weapon that repeatedly activates the trigger of the weapon through the use of a lever or other part that is turned in a circular motion; provided, however, that “trigger crank” shall not include any weapon initially designed and manufactured to fire through the use of a crank or lever.”7

Finally, Massachusetts prohibits any person from using any type of fully automatic machine gun or submachine gun for hunting purposes.8

Federal law requires machine guns to be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), and generally prohibits the transfer or possession of machine guns manufactured after May 19, 1986.9

  1. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131(o).[]
  2. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 123 (Eighth).[]
  3. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 121.[]
  4. See 2017 MA H 4008, Sections 18-21, 52-53 (amending Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, §§ 121, 131.[]
  5. 2017 MA H 4008, Section 21 (amending Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131(o).[]
  6. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 121.[]
  7. Id.[]
  8. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 131, § 64.[]
  9. 18 U.S.C. § 922(o); 26 U.S.C. § 5861(d).[]