Federal and state gun laws can be complex and difficult to follow. Despite your best intentions, you may find yourself in violation of a gun law and arrested for allegedly committing a gun crime. Learn several common scenarios to avoid to protect yourself from gun charges in Massachusetts. If you have already been arrested for illegal gun activity, contact an experienced Middlesex County gun offenses lawyer immediately.
According to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269 Section 10(h)(1), any individual who possesses a firearm – including a handgun, rifle and shotgun – must have a valid license or permit to do so, even if the individual only plans on keeping it in his or her home or business. Possessing a firearm without the correct permit can lead to a maximum sentence of two years in jail. This is against the law even if you are only temporarily holding a firearm for a friend or family member.
Unlike most other states, Massachusetts does not have a specific law that prohibits gun ownership or possession by someone with a felony conviction on their record. However, it does require a Firearm Identification Card or License to Carry. These permits are not available to anyone with a prior conviction for a felony crime, drug crime, violent crime or misdemeanor that carries up to two years in jail.
It is against the law to possess certain types of guns or other weapons, even if you have a license or permit to purchase and possess firearms in Massachusetts. State law makes some weapons illegal for all individuals, such as sawed-off shotguns and machine guns.
While it is lawful to open carry a firearm in Massachusetts with the correct type of license, individuals may only open carry guns that have been approved by the public safety department. It is also against the law to brandish a firearm in certain locations, such as restaurants and bars that prohibit firearms and in all schools, courthouses and airports.
It is important to know the gun laws in any state where you will be driving while carrying a firearm. Although most states do not require gun licenses if you’re just passing through, the law changes from state to state. Typically, under federal law, a gun must be unloaded and concealed in a case or the glovebox if you are driving it across state lines.
Threatening to shoot someone, even if it is an empty threat that you had no intention of filling, is a crime in Massachusetts. It is against the law to put another person in fear of imminent bodily harm, including threatening to shoot them. In many circumstances, threatening to commit a crime is a crime itself, even if you don’t commit the crime mentioned.
Shooting a gun into the air in celebration, such as to celebrate the New Year, can result in gun charges in Massachusetts. Shooting straight up into the air may seem harmless, but it is a real danger to bystanders, as the bullet could strike someone on its way down. In Massachusetts, firing into the air for celebratory purposes is the crime of “reckless discharge of a firearm,” which can lead to the cancellation of the individual’s firearm license and other penalties.
If you had a firearm on your person during the commission of a crime, this could heighten the criminal charges against you – even if you never brandished the weapon during the crime committed. Carrying a firearm during a minor violation of the law, for example, can lead to heightened charges, such as an aggravated offense. You could face additional charges just for carrying the gun while committing the crime in question.
For more information about common scenarios that can lead to gun charges in Massachusetts, contact a criminal defense lawyer at Spring & Spring.