Buying Ammo and Guns in Massachusetts

DISCLAIMER: It is your full responsibility to make sure the firearm, ammunition, or accessories you are purchasing is legal for you to own in your state or jurisdiction. The information contained throughout this web site, including the firearm and ammunition state guide provided below, is not legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.

This piece covers the ammunition and firearms laws in Massachusetts. To do so, the piece starts with the ammunition laws in MA, with an eye on the legal processes necessary to buy ammo in the state. From there, we turn to the firearms laws, covering both the purchasing of firearms and the processes by which people can own and carry guns in public in Massachusetts. To wrap things up, we leave you with some resources that we think will be useful for folks who want to buy, own, and carry firearms and ammunition in Massachusetts.

Do not consider this piece to be legal advice. Instead, we hope that this is a useful source of information that you can use to inform your own analyses and choices.

Owning and carrying firearms in Massachusetts exposes law-abiding folks to some of the most complex and restrictive laws in the country.  One thing that might make things slightly easier for the average person is that the state, more or less, has preemption. Our understanding is that courts in the state have found that localities are free to make their own laws, but not in such a way that makes it difficult for law-abiding, ordinary persons to live normal lives and do the things that are generally legal elsewhere in the state. So, generally, the laws around owning and carrying guns are set at the state level and apply to the state as a whole.

Ammo Laws/Buying Ammo in Massachusetts 

First, we will cover the ammo laws of MA.

The ammunition laws in Massachusetts are among the most strict in the nation for one major reason: the state requires a permit, called a Firearms ID Card, to buy or possess any firearms or ammunition at all.  The state also requires that anyone selling ammunition has a license from Massachusetts to do so, and for them to ask for the Firearms ID card of customers when purchases are made.

Getting that ID card requires an application, a $100 fee, and a class, and is subject to the discretion of local law enforcement.  If you plan to also carry a firearm in the state, keep that page bookmarked, as you will need it again.

Because of the licensing rules for both buyers and sellers of ammunition, most retailers are simply unwilling to go through the hassle and legal liability of shipping ammo to the state. Thus, the best bet for Massachusetts residents is often to buy ammunition in person.

Once the buyer has the requisite license and has been relieved of $100 by the state, Massachusetts does not have any ammo bans, nor do they impose waiting periods on ammo.

In addition to the already strict Massachusetts requirements, Federal laws still apply. People have to be eighteen to buy rifle or shotgun ammo, and twenty-one to buy handgun ammo. Additionally, prohibited persons, such as those convicted of felonies or domestic violence, those who have been ruled mentally unfit in court, and people who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, cannot buy ammo anywhere in the USA.

In sum, an ordinary person can expect to wait about a month and spend $100 for the privilege of having to go to the local gun store to buy ammo in Massachusetts, and that right can be denied for any reason, including no reason at all, by local authorities. This means that the state has some of the strictest ammo laws in the country.

Gun Laws/Buying Guns in Massachusetts 

Next, we will do the same exercise for MA’s gun laws.

The state has a ban on certain magazines and “assault weapons.” No one can own magazines of more than ten rounds, unless they were already in the state and in the possession of the current owner before the ban became law. The assault weapon ban prohibits the sale and possession of firearms both by name and through a list of features. That same law also bans suppressors and destructive devices, though other NFA items, such as short-barreled rifles, are allowed.

Assuming the buyer wants to buy a gun that is not banned, the first step, just like with ammunition, is to acquire a current Firearms ID Card from the state.

If the buyer has a Firearms ID card, make sure to bring that, another form of ID, and a form of payment to the FFL. That FFL will ask the buyer to fill out Form 4473 to comply with federal and state law. Once both the background check and payment are clear, the buyer can leave with the purchased firearm on the same day.

Overall, buying a firearm in Massachusetts is quite restrictive thanks to the fact that there are both bans and a requirement to have a pre-existing permit, which both add fees to the equation and act as a de facto waiting period.

Carrying a firearm requires yet another permit. In this case, it is the same application as the Firearms ID card, but with a different box checked at the top and an additional fee. This means that to own and carry a firearm in the state, you would have to fill out the exact same application twice, pay two different sets of fees, and check precisely one box differently.

Once the second permit, called the License to Carry, is in hand, permit holders can both concealed and openly carry a firearm in the state, and in most public and private places. The Massachusetts permit is not that widely accepted in other states, especially in other states in the immediate geographical surroundings of the state.

Like most states, the Massachusetts state government outlaws firearms in some locations entirely, including:

  • K-12 schools

  • Colleges and universities

  • Inside airport terminals

  • Courthouses

  • Federal facilities

  • Public roads (on foot)

These restrictions are not unusual, even among the most permissive states.

Despite the strict gun laws in the state, Kahr Arms operates a manufacturing facility in the state.

Overall, the bans and permitting processes in Massachusetts make the state strict in terms of its gun laws. This is especially true given that people have to, in effect, pay for and fill out the same permit twice to both carry and own guns. This seems to be a deliberate system to tax gun owners and make carrying a firearm in the state an onerous bureaucratic process.

Gun laws in the state might well get even more strict in the future. A proposed law, which recently passed the state House, would add a slew of new restrictions, including even more paperwork and fees, as well as mandating serial numbers on all firearm parts (which is very poorly defined in the bill and might even include screws).

All things considered, Massachusetts is one of the strictest states already in terms of gun laws, and things might well get more strict in the future. Should this bill pass, the gun laws in Massachusetts would more closely resemble those in Europe than those in the US.

Sales Tax on Guns/Ammo in Massachusetts 

The general sales tax rate in Massachusetts is 6.25%, and it does not vary from place to place within the state. The state does not impose additional taxes on firearms and ammunition, though the permitting fees required to purchase and carry firearms and ammunition might rightly be viewed as taxes.

More Resources:

  • The ATF maintains a list of every FFL in the country, including in Massachusetts. This list is kept up to date and can be used to find local gun stores, which are usually Type One or Type Two FFLs. 

  • is a great tool: using the zip code, city, and mileage filters, you can find ranges that are convenient to you. Users can upload new ranges, too, and the information is regularly fact-checked. 

  • There are a number of well-rated gun stores in Massachusetts.

  • Northeast Shooters Forums are not Mass specific, but they do have active sections following the legal developments in the state.

MA Gun Law FAQ:

Since the state requires that all buyers have a valid Firearms ID Card, and all sellers must check this and be licensed with the state, many online dealers will not ship into Massachusetts. We will, but you’ll need to provide us with your license prior to receiving your order. 

Yes: people can concealed carry a firearm in the state if they have a valid Firearms ID card, as well as a valid License to Carry. These have the same exact application, but can only be done one at a time.

No. The state has bans on several categories of weapons, permits to buy even ammunition, and, in some cases, duplicate paperwork and taxes to carry firearms.

Yes and no. The state does not forbid open carry, except for the carriage of long guns along public roads. This is one of the areas where localities might be able to make their own laws, though.

Nope: the state has an assault weapons ban, which is likely going to become even more strict in the future.