Driver Beware: Crossing Border Could Make you a Felon

All firearm enthusiasts in Massachusetts should be aware of the state assault weapons ban, M.G.L. 140 § 131M, that was enacted in 1998.  However, it is imperative that non-residents be aware of said prohibitions as well.  Non-residents, while in the Commonwealth, must also comply with § 131M – even those possessing non-resident LTC’s.

In all of the states that border Massachusetts, with the exception of New York, there are no laws prohibiting the possession of post-ban magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition.  Though the federal ban was lifted in 2004, Massachusetts’ version of the assault weapons ban is still in effect today.  Therefore, while certain weapons and feeding devices may be perfectly legal to own and posses in your state, they are strictly prohibited in the Commonwealth.  Violation of such an offense is a felony.

M.G.L. 140 § 131M states, “No person shall sell, offer for sale, transfer or possess an assault weapon or a large capacity feeding device that was not otherwise lawfully possessed on September 13, 1994. Whoever not being licensed under the provisions of section 122 violates the provisions of this section shall be punished, for a first offense, by a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $10,000 or by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than ten years, or by both such fine and imprisonment, and for a second offense, by a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $15,000 or by imprisonment for not less than five years nor more than 15 years, or by both such fine and imprisonment. The provisions of this section shall not apply to: (i) the possession by a law enforcement officer for purposes of law enforcement; or (ii) the possession by an individual who is retired from service with a law enforcement agency and is not otherwise prohibited from receiving such a weapon or feeding device from such agency upon retirement.”   supplied.

 M.G.L. 140 § 121 defines an assault weapon the same as the former federal statute, 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(30), which reads as follows:

 a semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of–

(i) a folding or telescoping stock;

(ii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;

(iii) a bayonet mount;

(iv) a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor; and

(v) a grenade launcher;

 a semiautomatic pistol that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of–

(i) an ammunition magazine that attaches to the pistol outside of the pistol grip;

(ii) a threaded barrel capable of accepting a barrel extender, flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer;

(iii) a shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel and that permits the shooter to hold the firearm with the nontrigger hand without being burned;

(iv) a manufactured weight of 50 ounces or more when the pistol is unloaded; and

(v) a semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm; and

             a semiautomatic shotgun that has at least 2 of–

(i) a folding or telescoping stock;

(ii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;

(iii) a fixed magazine capacity in excess of 5 rounds; and

(iv) an ability to accept a detachable magazine.

 M.G.L. 140 § 121 defines a large capacity feeding device as “a fixed or detachable magazine, box, drum, feed strip or similar device capable of accepting, or that can be readily converted to accept, more than ten rounds of ammunition or more than five shotgun shells.”   However, this does not include an attached tubular device that operates only with .22 caliber ammunition.

 In short, before bringing any weapons or feeding devices into Massachusetts, one needs to ensure they are in compliance with the non-resident conditions for possession of firearms, or maintain a non-resident LTC.  Still further, one must make sure said weapons and feeding devices comply with the requirements set forth above.  Most commonly, this means no post-ban (manufactured after Sept. 13, 1994):

  • AR-15’s with any “evil feature” in addition to a pistol grip
  • Magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition
  • Magazines that hold more than 5 shotgun shells

These, among others, can never be possessed in this state, with the exception to law enforcement officers for purposes of law enforcement.  As stated above, a violation of this statute is a felony.  Thus, a conviction would not only mean the penalties outlined in the statute, but also a federal lifetime ban from possessing any firearm, in accordance with 18 U.S.C. 922(g).