According to Massachusetts law, a non-resident can carry a handgun in or through Massachusetts for the purpose of attending a competition, or attending a meeting or exhibition or organized group of firearm collectors or coming to Massachusetts for the purpose of hunting. “Carrying a Handgun” actually means possession of that weapon, unloaded, and locked in a case not accessible to the owner. A nonresident cannot carry a firearm on his person in Massachusetts for protection unless he or she is licensed to carry a firearm in Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, even if passing through the state, no person shall possess an assault weapon or a large capacity feeding device that was not otherwise lawfully possessed on September 13, 1994. Likewise, possession of large capacity magazines is also prohibited unless lawfully possessed on September 13, 1994. According to Massachusetts law, no person possessing a large capacity rifle or shotgun under a Class A or Class B license issued under section 131 or 131F shall possess the same in a vehicle unless such weapon is unloaded and contained within the locked trunk of such vehicle or in a locked case or other secure container. Mass General Law c.140 §§121, 131C, 131M.
When passing through Massachusetts, a traveler must realize that reliance on the Second Amendment alone does not provide adequate guidance or protection so as to prevent him from being arrested for violating Massachusetts gun laws. We all know that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights and is an inalienable right. The Second Amendment states:
A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.
Nevertheless, if you are a nonresident of Massachusetts but licensed to carry a firearm in a different state, you will be subject to Massachusetts governmental rule when passing pass through Massachusetts.
MGL c. 140, Section 131G, applies to Non-residents traveling through Massachusetts.
Section 131G provides:
Any person who is not a resident of the commonwealth may carry a pistol or revolver in or through the commonwealth for the purpose of taking part in a pistol or revolver competition or attending any meeting or exhibition of any organized group of firearm collectors or for the purpose of hunting; provided, that such person is a resident of the United States and has a permit or license to carry firearms issued under the laws of any state, district or territory thereof which has licensing requirements which prohibit the issuance of permits or licenses to persons who have been convicted of a felony or who have been convicted of the unlawful use, possession or sale of narcotic or harmful drugs; provided, further, that in the case of a person traveling in or through the commonwealth for the purpose of hunting, he has on his person a hunting or sporting license issued by the commonwealth or by the state of his destination. Police officers and other peace officers of any state, territory or jurisdiction within the United States duly authorized to possess firearms by the laws thereof shall, for the purposes of this section, be deemed to have a permit or license to carry firearms as described in this section.
In most states, firearms may be transported legally if they are unloaded, cased, and locked in the automobile trunk or otherwise inaccessible to the driver or any passenger. As soon as any firearm is carried on or about the person, or placed loaded or readily accessible in a vehicle, you will violate Massachusetts’s firearm laws. MGL c. 269 section 10.
Travelers through Massachusetts can also look to federal law for protection. A provision of the federal law known as the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act of 1986, 18 U.S.C. § 921 et seq., or FOPA, protects persons traveling from one place to another. FOPA provides that a traveler cannot be incarcerated for a firearms offense in a state that has strict gun control law if the traveler is just passing through the state, provided that the firearms and ammunition are not immediately accessible, that the firearms are unloaded and, in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment, the firearms are located in a locked container. In vehicles without a trunk, the unloaded firearm must be in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.
18 USC § 926A – Interstate transportation of firearms
Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.
Attorney Steven J. Topazio is an experienced and accomplished weapons violation attorney who has been representing individuals charged with gun and firearms charges in Massachusetts for over 25 years.
For more information about firearm violations, visit Boston Criminal Lawyer Steven J. Topazio at http://www.topaziolaw.com/.