New Resident Exemption Now Permits Firearm to be Brought into Massachusetts by Motor Vehicle

 

In Commonwealth v. Smigielski, 82 Mass.App.Ct. 1107 (2012), the defendant was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm in a motor vehicle in violation of G.L. c. 269, § 10(a ), and unlawful possession of ammunition without a firearm identification (FID) card in violation of G.L. c. 269, § 10(h ). The defendant argued that she is exempt under G.L. c. 140 § 129C(j), which provides a sixty-day grace period in which new or returning residents may register certain firearms. The District Court Judge was of the impression that there was no statutory grace period for an individual driving into the State, either with or without an intent to reside.

The defendant testified at trial that she left the State of Texas, packed her belongings in the car, and intended to move to Massachusetts, where her sister resides, to live in Easthampton and find employment. The Appellate Court, in overruling the decision of the District Court stated that “[t]his evidence, if believed, was sufficient to raise the defense.”

In Commonwealth v. Cornelius, 78 Mass.App.Ct. 413, 419–420 (2010), the Court held that § 129C (j ) provides such a grace period to new residents who drive into the State with certain firearms in an automobile.

The firearm exemptions in G.L. c. 269, § 10(a) , are as follows:

(1) being present in or on his residence or place of business; or
(2) having in effect a license to carry firearms issued under section one hundred and thirty-one of chapter one hundred and forty; or
(3) having in effect a license to carry firearms issued under section one hundred and thirty-one F of chapter one hundred and forty; or
(4) having complied with the provisions of sections one hundred and twenty-nine C or one hundred and thirty-one G of chapter one hundred and forty….

Therefore, compliance with G.L. c. 140 § 129C(j), exempts the person from G.L. c. 269, § 10(a).

General Laws c. 140, § 129C, provides, in pertinent part: “No person, other than a licensed dealer or one who has been issued a license to carry a pistol or revolver or an exempt person as hereinafter described, shall own or possess any firearm, rifle, shotgun or ammunition unless he has been issued a firearm identification card by the licensing authority pursuant to the provisions of section one hundred and twenty-nine B.”