The below information provides general advice as a guide and should not be considered legal advice. There may be additional rules and regulations that apply based on different circumstances.
Obtaining and maintaining a Firearm Identification Card or License To Carry in Boston.
Any Massachusetts resident who wishes to lawfully own, carry or transport a firearm in the state must obtain one of two firearms licenses:
- Firearm Identification Card (FID): Permits a qualified person to purchase and possess non-large-capacity rifles and shotguns. For more information, click here.
- License to Carry (LTC): Permits a qualified person to purchase, rent, lease, borrow, possess, and carry handguns, rifles, shotguns, feeding devices, and ammunition. This is the only license that allows the carrying of handguns-either loaded or unloaded. For more information, click here.
All first time firearm license applicants must successfully complete a MA Certified Firearms Safety Course or a Basic Hunter Education Course and submit a certificate of completion with their firearms license application. For more information, click here.
For those who live or own a business in Boston, the Boston Police Commissioner is the local licensing authority. All applicants must submit an application to the Boston Police Department Licensing Unit. A police officer from the Licensing Unit will conduct a background check and an interview of all applicants.
To learn more about the specific requirements for these licenses, download BPD’s guidelines about obtaining an FID or a LTC.
To learn more about the overall licensing process, please see this Boston Police Department Firearms License Application Process flow chart from the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services.
- Live Fire Requirement: Boston requires all applicants for licenses to carry and renewals to successfully complete a live fire test at the Boston Police Department Firearms Range. Applicants are encouraged to have some prior experience with a handgun and are expected to demonstrate the safe handling and familiarity with a .38 caliber, 4-inch barrel revolver.
- Carry restrictions: Boston Police Department’s Licensing Unit may place restrictions on your firearm licenses. Individuals requesting an unrestricted license to carry must demonstrate good reason to fear injury to the applicant or the applicant’s property, or other proper purpose of reason. In order to apply for an unrestricted firearm license, applicants must send a letter to the licensing unit stating their reasons, and include any supporting documentation. For more on license restrictions, click here.
- Boston Assault Weapons Ban: Boston’s assault weapons ban expands upon the state law. For full information on this provision, click here. For more information on the state law, click here.
- Change of address: Upon a change of address, Boston licensees, like residents of other cities, must notify the Boston Police Department, the Chief of Police in their new jurisdiction, and the Commissioner of the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS). Failing to fulfill this requirement provides grounds for suspension or revocation of a firearm license. Please use the CJIS change of address form to notify the agencies.
- New residents: New Massachusetts residents who own firearms must apply for an LTC or FID within 60 days if they wish to continue to possess firearms in Massachusetts.
Proper Reporting of Firearms Transfers
- Transfer Requirements: State law requires all residents to report any private sale or transfer of a firearm via the Massachusetts Gun Transaction Portal either prior to, or at the time of the sale/transfer. Residents who purchase or obtain a firearm by any means other than by a personal sale/transfer or through a Massachusetts firearms dealer are required to register the firearm within seven (7) days through the same portal. For more information see the MA Public Safety Portal FAQ.
- Inheritance: In the case of firearms inherited upon the death of the owner, heirs must obtain a firearms license or legally dispose of their firearms through transfer, sale or other legal means. For more information, see state law here. In some cases it may be recommended to consult with a firearms attorney or with a dealer experienced in transfers.
Storage of Firearms at Home
When storing a firearm at home, firearms must be stored in a locked container in such way as to prevent unauthorized access, or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device that will render them inoperable by and person other than the owner or the lawfully authorized user. Failing to properly secure a firearm is a criminal offense. For more information, click here to see the state law.
Transporting Firearms in Motor Vehicles*
- Handguns: If you have an unrestricted license to carry, you can transport a loaded or unloaded handgun on your person or in a motor vehicle. If your license has a restriction, you are only able to carry your handgun within those restrictions. If you are not carrying the handgun on your persons, it must be properly secured within accordance of Massachusetts state law. For more information, click here to see the state law.
- Large-Capacity Rifles and Shotguns: All license to carry holders transporting large capacity rifles or shotguns must transport the rifle or shotgun unloaded and in a locked case, locked trunk, or other secure container. Trigger locks do not meet the requirements of securing a large-capacity firearm during transport in a motor vehicle.
We always recommend locked cases for firearms and other such weapons.
For more information or questions regarding licensing requirements and legal gun owner responsibilities please contact the Boston Police Licensing Unit.
Boston Police Headquarters – Licensing Unit
One Schroeder Plaza, Boston, MA. 02120.