Firearm theft prevention information
Every year, hundreds of Massachusetts firearm owners are the victims of firearm theft. These stolen guns end up used in crimes in our communities.
- Gun Theft Prevention tips: Per state law, Massachusetts gun owners must fulfill certain requirements for the safe storage of firearms in their homes and cars (See Staying Legal). While these storage methods are important, gun owners can go beyond them to protect themselves from being the victim of a gun theft.
In The Home
- Install a high-quality safe that is securely bolted to the floor.
- Follow general burglary prevention steps, such as ensuring that windows and doors are always locked.
- Consider smart home security investments such as installing drill-resistant locks, outdoor lighting, and solid wooden doors or doors reinforced with steel that offer much more protection than hollow core wood doors.
In Cars: A determined burglar can break into a car and defeat any security device with sufficient time, and the safest path is always to remove firearms from unattended vehicles when possible and legal. However, if you must leave your gun in the car, there are extra steps you can take to protect it.
- Install a gun lockbox that is bolted to the car frame, or at minimum cable locked to the car frame in the trunk that must be locked.
- Ensure that your car is “clean,” i.e. there are no items such as bags or purses that would indicate to a burglar that the car potentially holds valuables and invite a break-in.
- Install anti-theft devices such as car alarms.
- Proper Firearm Recording: It is important to properly record your firearm’s serial number and store that record separate from the gun. In the case of a gun theft, this will allow you to properly report the theft. The ATF provides a personal firearms record sheet for this purpose. For more information, click here.
- Reporting Stolen or Lost Firearms: Per state law, firearm owners need to file a stolen or lost firearm report within seven (7) days of the loss/theft to both the local police department and also with the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services. To report a loss or theft, click here. The firearm must be reported to the police agency where the firearm was last seen. To file a lost/stolen report with the Boston Police department, call 911.
Procedures for disposing of a firearm via BPD
Procedure if you are an LTC or FID permit holder: The following procedure MUST be followed in order to turn in a firearm at a BPD station.
- Firearms must be delivered unloaded.
- Firearms must be put in a clear plastic bag, and put into another container (gym bag, backpack etc.).
- If depositing ammunition in addition to a firearm, ammunition must be delivered in a separate bag.
- If transporting the gun by car, firearm must be transported in the trunk of the car.
If any additional questions on how to turn in a firearm, individuals are encouraged to call Firearm Analysis Unit at (617) 343-4465.
Procedure if you are not an LTC or FID permit holder: The following procedure MUST be followed in order to receive amnesty for possession of a gun. If the protocol is followed, the person dropping off the firearm will not be prosecuted for unlawful possession of that specific firearm. Amnesty will not be given for any other crime committed with that firearm or for any other crime committed while in possession of that firearm.
- Gun must be delivered unloaded.
- Gun must be put in a clear plastic bag, and put into another container (gym bag, backpack etc.).
- If depositing ammunition in addition to a gun, ammunition must be delivered in a separate bag.
- If transporting the gun by car, gun must be transported in the trunk of the car.
If any additional questions on how to turn in a gun, individuals are encouraged to call Firearm Analysis Unit at (617) 343-4465.
Suicide prevention information
According to Harvard University’s Means Matter, gun owners aren’t more likely to be suicidal – but gun owners are more likely to die from suicide, because gun suicide attempts are almost always fatal. Suicide attempts are often impulsive acts during a short-term crisis. This doesn’t mean the suicide comes out of the blue. Most people who attempt have underlying mental health or substance abuse issues, but the decision to make an attempt can be rapid in the face of a crisis like a relationship breakup, arrest, or worsening symptoms.
Because of this, putting time and distance between an at-risk person and a firearm may save a life. Ninety percent of those who attempt suicide – even those making very serious attempts – do not go on to die from suicide later.
Massachusetts law already requires safe firearm storage in the home, but if you or someone in your family is struggling with a mental health or substance abuse issue or other painful life crisis, there are extra steps you can take to keep yourself and your family safe. A partnership of firearms safety instructors and suicide prevention experts have developed recommended precautions to follow when you or a loved one is struggling: lock, limit, and store offsite.
- Lock: Store your firearms in a safe or lockbox. If you use gunlocks, change your gunlocks and, if possible, store the key outside of the house. BPD offers free gunlocks. If you would like a gunlock or advice on proper storage of guns and / or ammunition, please call the BPD’s Licensing Division at (617) 343-4425
- Limit: Take all ammunition out of the home, or at minimum store it separately from firearms in a locked container until the person recovers.
- Store Offsite: The safest option when you or a loved one is struggling is to temporarily store your guns away from home until the situation improves. There are several different options in Boston to do so. If you have a friend or family member who is a LTC or FID holder, he or she can temporarily hold the gun for you (FID licenses only permit rifles and shotguns). Self-storage facilities, depending on their policies, often allow guns in storage units. Area gunsmiths and ranges may take guns for cleaning or temporary storage.
If you are interested in disposing of a firearm, you can do so safely and confidentially at any district station.
For more information on suicide prevention, see these resources: