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Large-Capacity Gun Permits Soar in Acton

See how many gun permits were issued in Acton over the past four years.

The Beretta 92 pistol. The SPAS-12 shotgun.

These are examples of the types of large-capacity firearms for which permits have increased 30 percent in Acton since 2008, according to state records. Ownership permits for smaller-capacity firearms are unchanged.

"Large-capacity" firearms are defined by the state of Massachusetts as semi-automatic handguns or rifles with the capacity of more than 10 ammunition rounds in their magazines and shotguns capable of having more than five shells.

The numbers have emerged as state and federal officials have recently proposed new gun restrictions, and imposed others, in the wake of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

ACTON LEGAL GUN OWNERSHIP RATES

Since 2008, the number of gun permits issued to Acton residents has increased for some types of firearms but remained relatively flat for others, as shown in the chart below and graph in the photo box to the right. 

Police departments in each Massachusetts community review and issue gun permits to anybody that applies and those statistics are forwarded to the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. Patch obtained the records from the EOPSS.

 

 

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firearms ID Card

87

96

97

91

91

Firearms ID Card (Mace)

43

53

57

54

49

Class A, License to Carry Large-Capacity

537

606

639

667

698

Class B License to Carry, Non-Large-Capacity

N/A N/A N/A

N/A

N/A

License to Possess A Machine Gun

3

3

3

3

2

 

WHAT EACH LICENSE ALLOWS 

CLASS A LICENSE TO CARRY: A class A license allows a person to possess or carry all types of ammunition, handguns, rifles, shotguns and large and non-large-capacity magazines, according to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife website. Licensees are also allowed to carry their weapon, loaded or unloaded, while concealed.

Applicants must be 21 or older, pay a $100 fee and pass a firearms safety course or hunters course. However, police departments are allowed to impose restrictions on a class A license. The permit lasts for six years.

CLASS B LICENSE TO CARRY: A class B license allows individuals to have or carry non-large capacity rifles, shotguns (large and non-large capacity) and handguns, according to the DFW website. Licensees must be 21 or older, pay the $100 fee and pass either the firearms or hunters course. Class B applicants are not subject to police restrictions and the license is valid for six years.

FIREARMS IDENTIFICATION CARD: An FID card allows individuals to have or carry non-large capacity rifles, shotguns and ammo, but not handguns, according to the DFW website. Applicants must be 18 or older, pay a $100 fee and pass either the firearms or hunters course. Police have 40 days to issue a written response after an application is filed and denials must be issued in writing. Extra conditions cannot be imposed. Also, for a $25 fee, applicants between 15 and 17 may apply, with parental consent.

Gun owners are not required to retake the safety courses to renew their licenses, according to the state website.

LICENSE TO POSSESS A MACHINE GUN: Licenses to carry machine guns (any gun capable of rapid fire shots through one trigger squeeze) are not issued in Massachusetts. Only firearms instructors and gun collectors are allowed to apply for licenses to possess machine guns.

NON-RESIDENTS: Anybody who is not a resident of Massachusetts can legally carry a non-large capacity rifle or shotgun for hunting as long as they are permitted to carry those in their home state, according to the DFW website. Non-residents are prohibited from buying ammunition in Massachusetts.

LEGAL IMMIGRANTS: As of April 30, 2012, legal immigrants can apply for licenses to carry a firearm as well as a firearms identification card, according to the DFW website. 

APPEALS: Anybody denied a gun permit has the right to appeal, according to state law.

GUN PROHIBITIONS

In addition to the license rules, Massachusetts has several other regulations, including: (source: Massachusetts state law).

  • Gun dealers are prohibited from selling assault weapons or large-capacity magazines (e.g. a detachable drum magazine) unless they were bought before Sept. 13, 1994. Examples of assault weapons banned: FN/FAL, Steyr-AUG, TEC-9, Uzis, and AR-15s.
  • Individuals convicted of felonies or misdemeanors that included at least a two-year jail sentence may not apply for a gun permit. Also, anybody convicted of prior gun or drug offenses or violent crimes is also prohibited.  
  • Individuals who have been sent to mental health hospitals are prohibited from owning guns unless a doctor issues permission.
  • Individuals who have been treated for substance abuse are barred from owning guns unless a doctor declared the person “cured.”
  • Also, anybody against whom restraining orders have been filed against are also prohibited from having guns.

RECENTLY IMPOSED REGULATIONS

In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed new rules on guns along with Pres. Barack Obama. Obama has also issued new rules through his executive order powers. 

New Proposed State Gun Rules (Press release from Patrick)

  • Abolishing high-power ammunition.
  • Requiring background checks be performed for gun sales done at gun shows.
  • A limit of one gun purchase per month.
  • Prohibiting anybody under 21 from buying a machine gun.
  • Sharing relevant mental health information with a state database, which would more easily help federal officials perform background checks on prospective gun buyers.
  • Also, Patrick proposed an additional $5 million for increased mental health services.
  • The bill, if passed, would create four new gun crimes, which prosecutors could use to put offenders who use a gun behind bars.
  • New authority would be given to police to arrest individuals without having a warrant if they encounter a dangerous situation.
  • The bill would also increase penalties for having a gun on school grounds.

Obama’s Proposed Gun Regulations (Source: Huffington Post)

New Gun Rules Imposed by Obama (Source: Huffington Post)

  • Modifying health care privacy laws to make more mental health information available for background checks.
  • Authority for police to do background checks before returning a gun seized from its owner.
  • Federal law enforcers must now trace the origins of any gun used in a crime.
  • Increased prosecution of gun crimes.
  • Clarification of the Obama’s health care law to say doctors are allowed to ask patients whether they have a gun in their home.

 What are your thoughts on the kind and number of gun permits issues in Acton? Are you surprised at the jump in permit applications for large-capacity weapons? Let us know in the comments section below.

Cb1985 January 22, 2013 at 01:37 PM
this article is a little misleading. mass does not allow any firearms that hold more than 10rds of ammo UNLESS it was built and sold before the current laws went into effect. my friend bought a berreta 92f in 2008 and the magazines sold with it do hold more than 10rds. if someone goes to another state and buys high capacity mags and brings them back to mass they can be arrested and charged with a felony. perhaps the author should mention that the permit process can take months to complete and months to renew.
rt2A January 22, 2013 at 06:31 PM
"Ownership permits for smaller-caliber firearms are unchanged" ?? Smaller caliber means smaller diameter projectile/bore size. The license system in MA does not distinguish by caliber. Also licenses are renewed at 6 year intervals - how many of these were renewals? This data is ambiguous with regard to the actual increase in overall licenses issued unless it is confirmed that they are all new issues.
Ryan Grannan-Doll (Editor) January 22, 2013 at 09:30 PM
Cb1985, Massachusetts does indeed allow permit holders to possess firearms that contain more than 10 rounds, at least by my reading of the law. Also, if what you are saying is true, then why does the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries & Wildlife post information about obtaining large-capacity firearms licenses? I suggest visiting this website: http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/education/hed/hed_gun_laws.htm
Ryan Grannan-Doll (Editor) January 22, 2013 at 09:32 PM
Rt2A, Thanks for reading Acton Patch. You caught a smal oversight on our part, for which we applaud you! We have amended that the story to say smaller-capacity firearms remain unchanged, which is what we meant to say. As for renewals, the data is for current licenses, regardless of whether they were issued years ago and later renewed. In the end, readers are most interested to hear the total increase, whether that includes renewals or not. Thank you!

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