General Laws

Section 129B. A firearm identification card shall be issued and possessed subject to the following conditions and restrictions:

(1) Any person residing or having a place of business within the jurisdiction of the licensing authority or any person residing in an area of exclusive federal jurisdiction located within a city or town may submit to the licensing authority an application for a firearm identification card, or renewal of the same, which the licensing authority shall issue if it appears that the applicant is not a prohibited person. A prohibited person shall be a person who:

(i) has ever, in a court of the commonwealth, been convicted or adjudicated a youthful offender or delinquent child, or both as defined in section 52 of chapter 119, for the commission of: (A) a felony; (B) a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for more than 2 years ; (C) a violent crime as defined in section 121; (D) a 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; (E) a violation of any law regulating the use, possession or sale of controlled substances, as defined in section 1 of chapter 94C, including, but not limited to, a violation under said chapter 94C; or (F) a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence as defined in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(33); provided, however, that, except for the commission of a felony, a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, a violent crime or a crime involving the trafficking of controlled substances, if the applicant has been so convicted or adjudicated or released from confinement, probation or parole supervision for such conviction or adjudication, whichever occurs last, for 5 or more years immediately preceding such application, then the applicant's right or ability to possess a non-large capacity rifle or shotgun shall be deemed restored in the commonwealth with respect to such conviction or adjudication and that conviction or adjudication shall not disqualify the applicant for a firearm identification card;

(ii) has, in any other state or federal jurisdiction, been convicted or adjudicated a youthful offender or delinquent child for the commission of: (A) a felony; (B) a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for more than 2 years; (C) a violent crime as defined in section 121; (D) a 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; (E) a violation of any law regulating the use, possession or sale of controlled substances, as defined in section 1 of chapter 94C, including, but not limited to, a violation under said chapter 94C; or (F) a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence as defined in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(33); provided, however, that, except for the commission of felony, a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, a violent crime or a crime involving the trafficking of weapons or controlled substances, if the applicant has been so convicted or adjudicated or released from confinement, probation or parole supervision for such conviction or adjudication, whichever occurs last, for 5 or more years immediately preceding such application and the applicant's right or ability to possess a rifle or shotgun has been fully restored in the jurisdiction wherein the conviction or adjudication was entered, then the conviction or adjudication shall not disqualify such applicant for a firearm identification card;

(iii) is or has been: (A) except in the case of a commitment pursuant to sections 35 or 36C of chapter 123, committed to any hospital or institution for mental illness, alcohol or substance abuse, unless after 5 years from the date of the confinement, the applicant submits with the application an affidavit of a licensed physician or clinical psychologist attesting that such physician or psychologist is familiar with the applicant's mental illness, alcohol or substance abuse and that in the physician's or psychologist's opinion the applicant is not disabled by a mental illness, alcohol or substance abuse in a manner that should prevent the applicant from possessing a firearm, rifle or shotgun; (B) committed by an order of a court to any hospital or institution for mental illness, unless the applicant was granted a petition for relief of the court's order pursuant to said section 36C of said chapter 123 and submits a copy of the order for relief with the application; (C) subject to an order of the probate court appointing a guardian or conservator for a incapacitated person on the grounds that that applicant lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage affairs, unless the applicant was granted a petition for relief pursuant to section 56C of chapter 215 and submits a copy of the order for relief with the application; or (D) found to be a person with an alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder or both and committed pursuant to said section 35 of said chapter 123, unless the applicant was granted a petition for relief of the court's order pursuant to said section 35 of said chapter 123 and submits a copy of the order for relief with the application;

(iv) is at the time of the application younger than 14 years of age; provided however that the applicant shall not be issued the card until the applicant reaches the age of 15.

(v) is at the time of the application more than 14 but less than 18 years of age, unless the applicant submits with the application a certificate of a parent or guardian granting the applicant permission to apply for a card;

(vi) is an alien who does not maintain lawful permanent residency;

(vii) is currently subject to: (A) an order for suspension or surrender issued pursuant to section 3B or 3C of chapter 209A or a similar order issued by another jurisdiction; or (B) a permanent or temporary protection order issued pursuant to chapter 209A, a similar order issued by another jurisdiction, including an order described in 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(8);

(viii) is currently the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant in any state or federal jurisdiction;

(ix) has been discharged from the armed forces of the United States under dishonorable conditions;

(x) is a fugitive from justice; or

(xi) having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced that citizenship.

(11/2)(a) Notwithstanding paragraph (1) to the contrary, the licensing authority may file a petition to request that an applicant be denied the issuance or renewal of a firearm identification card, or to suspend or revoke such a card in the district court of jurisdiction. If the licensing authority files any such petition it shall be accompanied by written notice to the applicant describing the specific evidence in the petition. Such petition shall be founded upon a written statement of the reasons for supporting a finding of unsuitability pursuant to subsection (d).

(b) Upon the filing of a petition to deny the issuance or renewal of a firearm identification card, the court shall within 90 days hold a hearing to determine if the applicant is unsuitable under subsection (d) of this paragraph. Such a petition shall serve to stay the issuance or renewal of the firearm identification card pending a judicial determination on such petition.

(c) Upon the filing of a petition to suspend or revoke a firearm identification card, the court shall within 15 days determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support a finding that the applicant is unsuitable. Such petition shall serve to effect the suspension or revocation pending a judicial determination on the sufficiency of evidence. If a court determines that insufficient evidence exists to support a finding of unsuitability, the licensing authority shall not file a petition under this subsection for the same applicant within 75 days of the licensing authority's previous petition for that applicant. If a court determines that sufficient evidence exists to support a finding of unsuitability, the court shall within 75 days hold a hearing to determine if the applicant is unsuitable under subsection (d); provided, however, that such initial suspension or revocation shall remain in effect pending a judicial determination thereon.

(d) A determination of unsuitability shall be based on a preponderance of evidence that there exists: (i) reliable, articulable, and credible information that the applicant has exhibited or engaged in behavior to suggest the applicant could potentially create a risk to public safety; or (ii) existing factors that suggest that the applicant could potentially create a risk to public safety. If a court enters a judgment that an applicant is unsuitable the court shall notify the applicant in a writing setting forth the specific reasons for such determination. If a court has not entered a judgment that an applicant is unsuitable under this clause within 90 days for petitions under clause (ii) or within 75 days under clause (iii), the court shall enter a judgment that the applicant is suitable for the purposes of this paragraph.

(2) Within seven days of the receipt of a completed application for a card, the licensing authority shall forward one copy of the application and one copy of the applicant's fingerprints to the colonel of state police, who shall, within 30 days, advise the licensing authority, in writing, of any disqualifying criminal record of the applicant arising from within or without the commonwealth and whether there is reason to believe that the applicant is disqualified for any of the foregoing reasons from possessing a card; provided, however, that the taking of fingerprints shall not be required in issuing the renewal of a card if the renewal applicant's fingerprints are on file with the department of state police. In searching for any disqualifying history of the applicant, the colonel shall utilize, or cause to be utilized, files maintained by the department of mental health, department of probation and statewide and nationwide criminal justice, warrant and protection order information systems and files including, but not limited to, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. If the information available to the colonel does not indicate that the possession of a non-large capacity rifle or shotgun by the applicant would be in violation of state or federal law, he shall certify such fact, in writing, to the licensing authority within such 30 day period. The licensing authority shall provide to the applicant a receipt indicating that it received the applicant's application. The receipt shall be provided to the applicant within 7 days by mail if the application was received by mail or immediately if the application was made in person; provided, however, that the receipt shall include the applicants' name, address, current firearm identification card number, if any, the current card's expiration date, if any, the date when the application was received by the licensing authority, the name of the licensing authority and its agent that received the application, the licensing authority's address and telephone number, the type of application and whether it is an application for a new card or for renewal of an existing card; and provided further, that a copy of the receipt shall be kept by the licensing authority for not less than 1 year and a copy shall be furnished to the applicant if requested by the applicant.

(3) The licensing authority may not prescribe any other condition for the issuance of a firearm identification card and shall, within 40 days from the date of application, either approve the application and issue the license or deny the application and notify the applicant of the reason for such denial in writing; provided, however, that no such card shall be issued unless the colonel has certified, in writing, that the information available to him does not indicate that the possession of a rifle or shotgun by the applicant would be in violation of state or federal law.

(4) A firearm identification card shall be revoked or suspended by the licensing authority or his designee upon the occurrence of any event that would have disqualified the holder from being issued such card or from having such card renewed or for a violation of a restriction provided under this section. Any revocation or suspension of a card shall be in writing and shall state the reasons therefor. Upon revocation or suspension, the licensing authority shall take possession of such card and receipt for fee paid for such card, and the person whose card is so revoked or suspended shall take all action required under the provisions of section 129D. No appeal or post-judgment motion shall operate to stay such revocation or suspension. Notices of revocation and suspension shall be forwarded to the commissioner of the department of criminal justice information services and the commissioner of probation and shall be included in the criminal justice information system. A revoked or suspended card may be reinstated only upon the termination of all disqualifying conditions.

(5) Any applicant or holder aggrieved by a denial, revocation or suspension of a firearm identification card, unless a hearing has previously been held pursuant to chapter 209A, may, within either 90 days after receipt of notice of such denial, revocation or suspension or within 90 days after the expiration of the time limit in which the licensing authority is required to respond to the applicant, file a petition to obtain judicial review in the district court having jurisdiction in the city or town wherein the applicant filed for or was issued such card. A justice of such court, after a hearing, may direct that a card be issued or reinstated to the petitioner if the justice finds that such petitioner is not prohibited by law from possessing such card.

[Paragraph (6) effective until January 1, 2021. For text effective January 1, 2021, see below.]

(6) A firearm identification card shall not entitle a holder thereof to possess: (i) a large capacity firearm or large capacity feeding device therefor, except under a Class A license issued to a shooting club as provided under section 131 or under the direct supervision of a holder of a Class A license issued to an individual under section 131 at an incorporated shooting club or licensed shooting range; or (ii) a non-large capacity firearm or large capacity rifle or shotgun or large capacity feeding device therefor, except under a Class A license issued to a shooting club as provided under section 131 or under the direct supervision of a holder of a Class A or Class B license issued to an individual under section 131 at an incorporated shooting club or licensed shooting range. A firearm identification card shall not entitle a holder thereof to possess any rifle or shotgun that is, or in such manner that is, otherwise prohibited by law. A firearm identification card issued pursuant to subclause (vi) of clause (1) of section 122D shall be valid for the purpose of purchasing and possessing chemical mace, pepper spray or other similarly propelled liquid, gas or powder designed to temporarily incapacitate. Except as otherwise provided herein, a firearm identification card shall not be valid for the use, possession, ownership, transfer, purchase, sale, lease, rental or transportation of a rifle or shotgun if such rifle or shotgun is a large capacity weapon as defined in section 121.

[Paragraph (6) as amended by 2014, 284, Sec. 33 effective January 1, 2021. For text effective until January 1, 2021, see above.]

(6) A firearm identification card shall not entitle a holder thereof to possess: (i) a large capacity firearm or large capacity feeding device therefor, except under a license issued to a shooting club as provided under section 131 or under the direct supervision of a holder of a license issued to an individual under said section 131 at an incorporated shooting club or licensed shooting range; or (ii) a non-large capacity firearm or large capacity rifle or shotgun or large capacity feeding device therefor, except under a license issued to a shooting club as provided under said section 131 or under the direct supervision of a holder of a license issued to an individual under said section 131 at an incorporated shooting club or licensed shooting range. A firearm identification card shall not entitle a holder thereof to possess any rifle or shotgun that is, or in such manner that is, otherwise prohibited by law. A firearm identification card issued pursuant to subclause (vi) of clause (1) of section 122D, shall be valid to purchase and possess chemical mace, pepper spray or other similarly propelled liquid, gas or powder designed to temporarily incapacitate. Except as otherwise provided herein, a firearm identification card shall not be valid for the use, possession, ownership, transfer, purchase, sale, lease, rental or transportation of a rifle or shotgun if such rifle or shotgun is a large capacity weapon as defined in section 121.

[Paragraph (7) effective until January 1, 2021. For text effective January 1, 2021, see below.]

(7) A firearm identification card shall be in a standard form provided by the commissioner of the department of criminal justice information services in a size and shape equivalent to that of a license to operate motor vehicles issued by the registry of motor vehicles pursuant to section 8 of chapter 90 and shall contain an identification number, name, address, photograph, fingerprint, place and date of birth, height, weight, hair color, eye color and signature of the cardholder and shall be marked ''Firearm Identification Card'' and shall provide in a legible font size and style the phone numbers for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Samaritans Statewide Helpline. If a firearm identification card is issued pursuant to clause (vi) of section 122D for the sole purpose of purchasing or possessing chemical mace, pepper spray or other similarly propelled liquid, gas or powder designed to temporarily incapacitate, such card shall clearly state that such card is valid for such limited purpose only. The application for such card shall be made in a standard form provided by the commissioner of the department of criminal justice information services which shall require the applicant to affirmatively state, under the pains and penalties of perjury, that he is not disqualified on any of the grounds enumerated in clauses (i) to (ix), inclusive, from being issued such card.

[Paragraph (7) as amended by 2014, 284, Sec. 35A effective January 1, 2021. See 2014, 284, Sec. 112. For text effective until January 1, 2021, see above.]

(7) A firearm identification card shall be in a standard form provided by the commissioner of the department of criminal justice information services in a size and shape equivalent to that of a license to operate motor vehicles issued by the registry of motor vehicles pursuant to section 8 of chapter 90 and shall contain an identification number, name, address, photograph, fingerprint, place and date of birth, height, weight, hair color, eye color and signature of the cardholder and shall be marked ''Firearm Identification Card'' and shall provide in a legible font size and style the phone numbers for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Samaritans Statewide Helpline. If a firearm identification card is issued for the sole purpose of purchasing or possessing chemical mace, pepper spray or other similarly propelled liquid, gas or powder designed to temporarily incapacitate, such card shall clearly state that such card is valid for such limited purpose only. The application for such card shall be made in a standard form provided by the commissioner of the department of criminal justice information services which shall require the applicant to affirmatively state, under the pains and penalties of perjury, that he is not disqualified on any of the grounds enumerated in clauses (i) to (ix), inclusive, from being issued such card.

(8) Any person who knowingly files an application containing false information shall be punished by a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 or by imprisonment for not less than six months nor more than two years in a house of correction, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

(9) A firearm identification card shall be valid, unless revoked or suspended, for a period of not more than 6 years from the date of issuance, except that if the cardholder applied for renewal before the card expired, the card shall remain valid after the expiration date on the card for all lawful purposes, until the application for renewal is approved or denied; provided, however, if the cardholder is on active duty with the armed forces of the United States on the expiration date of the card, the card shall remain valid until the cardholder is released from active duty and for a period of not less than 180 days following such release, except that if the cardholder applied for renewal prior to the end of such period, the card shall remain valid after the expiration date on the card for all lawful purposes, until the application for renewal is approved or denied. A card issued on February 29 shall expire on March 1. The commissioner of criminal justice information services shall send electronically or by first class mail to the holder of a firearm identification card, a notice of the expiration of the card not less than 90 days before its expiration and shall enclose with the notice a form for the renewal of the card. The form for renewal shall include an affidavit whereby the applicant shall verify that the applicant has not lost a firearm or had a firearm stolen from the applicant's possession since the date of the applicant's last renewal or issuance. The commissioner of criminal justice information services shall include in the notice all pertinent information about the penalties that may be imposed if the firearm identification card is not renewed. The commissioner of criminal justice information services shall provide electronic notice of expiration only upon the request of a cardholder. A request for electronic notice of expiration shall be forwarded to the department on a form furnished by the commissioner. Any electronic address maintained by the department to provide electronic notice of expiration shall be considered a firearms record and shall not be disclosed except as provided in section 10 of chapter 66.

(9A) Except as provided in paragraph (9B), the fee for an application for a firearm identification card shall be $100, which shall be payable to the licensing authority and shall not be prorated or refunded in the case of revocation or denial. The licensing authority shall retain $25 of the fee; $50 of the fee shall be deposited in the General Fund; and $25 of the fee shall be deposited in the Firearms Fingerprint Identity Verification Trust Fund. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, licensing authorities shall deposit quarterly that portion of the firearm identification card application fee which is to be deposited into the General Fund, not later than January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 of each year.

[First paragraph of paragraph (9B) effective until January 1, 2021. For text effective January 1, 2021, see below.]

(9B) The application fee for a firearm identification card issued pursuant to clause (vi) of section 122D for the sole purpose of purchasing or possessing chemical mace, pepper spray or other similarly propelled liquid, gas or powder designed to temporarily incapacitate shall be $25, which shall be payable to the licensing authority and shall not be prorated or refunded in the case of revocation or denial. The licensing authority shall retain 50 per cent of the fee and the remaining portion shall be deposited in the General Fund. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, licensing authorities shall deposit quarterly that portion of the firearm identification card application fee which is to be deposited into the General Fund, not later than January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 of each year. There shall be no application fee for the renewal of a firearm identification card issued under this paragraph.

[First paragraph of paragraph (9B) as amended by 2014, 284, Sec. 35B effective January 1, 2021. See 2014, 284, Sec. 112. For text effective until January 1, 2021, see above.]

(9B) The application fee for a firearm identification card issued for the sole purpose of purchasing or possessing chemical mace, pepper spray or other similarly propelled liquid, gas or powder designed to temporarily incapacitate shall be $25, which shall be payable to the licensing authority and shall not be prorated or refunded in the case of revocation or denial. The licensing authority shall retain 50 per cent of the fee and the remaining portion shall be deposited in the General Fund. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, licensing authorities shall deposit quarterly that portion of the firearm identification card application fee which is to be deposited into the General Fund, not later than January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 of each year. There shall be no application fee for the renewal of a firearm identification card issued under this paragraph.

A firearm identification card issued under this paragraph shall display, in clear and conspicuous language, that the card shall be valid only for the purpose of purchasing or possessing chemical mace, pepper spray or other similarly propelled liquid, gas or powder designed to temporarily incapacitate.

(9C) Except as provided in paragraph (9B), the fee for an application for a firearm identification card for any person under the age of 18 shall be $25, which shall be payable to the licensing authority and shall not be prorated or refunded in the case of revocation or denial. The licensing authority shall retain 50 per cent of the fee and the remaining portion shall be deposited into the General Fund. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, licensing authorities shall deposit quarterly that portion of the firearm identification card application fee which is to be deposited into the General Fund, not later than January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 of each year.

(10) Any person over the age of 70 shall be exempt from the requirement of paying a renewal fee for a firearm identification card.

(11) A cardholder shall notify, in writing, the licensing authority that issued such card, the chief of police into whose jurisdiction such cardholder moves and the executive director of the criminal history systems board of any change of address. Such notification shall be made by certified mail within 30 days of its occurrence. Failure to so notify shall be cause for revocation or suspension of such card.

(12) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 10 of chapter 269, any person in possession of a non-large capacity rifle or shotgun whose firearm identification card issued under this section is invalid for the sole reason that it has expired, not including licenses that remain valid under paragraph (9) because the licensee applied for renewal before the license expired, but who shall not be disqualified from renewal upon application therefor under this section, shall be subject to a civil fine of not less than $100 nor more than $5,000 and the provisions of said section 10 of said chapter 269 shall not apply; provided, however, that the exemption from the provisions of said section 10 of said chapter 269 provided herein shall not apply if: (i) such firearm identification card has been revoked or suspended, unless such revocation or suspension was caused by failure to give notice of a change of address as required under this section; (ii) revocation or suspension of such firearm identification card is pending, unless such revocation or suspension was caused by failure to give notice of a change of address as required under this section; or (iii) an application for renewal of such firearm identification card has been denied. Any law enforcement officer who discovers a person to be in possession of a rifle or shotgun after such person's firearm identification card has expired, meaning after 90 days beyond the stated expiration date on the card, or has been revoked or suspended solely for failure to give notice of a change of address shall confiscate any rifle or shotgun and such expired or suspended card then in possession, and such officer shall forward such card to the licensing authority by whom it was issued as soon as practicable. Any confiscated weapon shall be returned to the owner upon the renewal or reinstatement of such expired or suspended card within one year of such confiscation or such weapon may be otherwise disposed of in accordance with the provisions of section 129D. Pending the issuance of a renewed firearm identification card, a receipt for the fee paid, after five days following issuance, shall serve as a valid substitute and any rifle or shotgun so confiscated shall be returned, unless the applicant is disqualified. The provisions of this paragraph shall not apply if such person has a valid license to carry firearms issued under section 131 or 131F.

(13) Upon issuance of a firearm identification card under this section, the licensing authority shall forward a copy of such approved application and card to the executive director of the criminal history systems board, who shall inform the licensing authority forthwith of the existence of any disqualifying condition discovered or occurring subsequent to the issuance of a firearm identification card under this section.

(14) Nothing in this section shall authorize the purchase, possession or transfer of any weapon, ammunition or feeding device that is, or in such manner that is, prohibited by state or federal law.

(15) The secretary of the executive office of public safety, or his designee, may promulgate regulations to carry out the purposes of this section.