Transporting Guns in Massachusetts

While the law that deals with transporting firearms in Massachusetts is straightforward, you will probably be thinking to yourself that it in many ways raises more questions than it answers. This is understandable, and is why the FAQ section is exceptionally comprehensive for the Storage & Transport discussion. G.L. c. 140, §§ 131C addresses Transport, specifically in a vehicle, which seems to encompass the transport that most people encounter. Also note, although this statute uses the term “carry” throughout, it’s meaning changes (I will explain where appropriate).

If a person who holds a Class A LTC, unrestricted wishes to carry a loaded handgun (firearm means handgun in this section) in their moving vehicle it must remain under their direct control. If such person is restricted then they may not carry their handgun; unless on their way to an activity for which their restriction allows them to carry.

No mention is made of what is required of Class A LTC holders who aren’t carrying the handgun loaded. A literal reading of the law would seem to indicate that although it must be unloaded, it could be left unlocked in any location in the vehicle. However, this is not generally how gun owners should treat the law, as few authorities would likely read the law the same way.

The law regarding Class B Firearms Licenses states: “No person carrying a firearm under a Class B license… shall possess the same in a vehicle unless such weapon is unloaded and contained within the locked trunk of such vehicle or in a locked case or other secure container.”

The phrase “carry” is again used, however “possess” is how one should understand the term. This is because a Class B LTC never allows for concealed carry (M.G.L. c. 140, §§ 131(b), “a Class B license shall not entitle the holder thereof to carry or possess a loaded firearm in a concealed manner in any public way or place”), and carry of a loaded handgun in a vehicle is always considered concealed carry. Therefore, the only lawful means a Class B holder has of transporting his handgun(s) is a) unloaded and b) in a locked case. In addition, many gun owners who hold Class LTC’s believe this section also pertains to them when transporting a handgun not under their direct control. While this is not true according to the law, one should not expect law enforcement to immediately recognize the difference; therefore it may be prudent to follow the Class B requirements even if you hold a Class A LTC.

Also note that this section performs a rare service for gun owners in that it answers a question rather than leaving it open to interpretation; it specifically tells us that a trunk is considered an adequate “case” in compliance with the law.

Subject to military, law enforcement, and a few other exceptions  the law requires that any large-capacity long gun be a) unloaded and b) in a locked case when transporting in a vehicle.

This article was written by By Marcus Dilloff and posted by Attorney Cohen.