Massachusetts Bill Extends ‘May Issue’ to Hunting Rifles, Shotguns

People's Republic of MassachusettsMassachusetts, the only state in New England wracked by increasing violent crime, is doubling down on its policy of extreme anti-gun laws. The most controversial policy proposed by State House Speaker Robert DeLeo is to add the state’s “May Issue” standard for handgun licenses, which is a de facto “No Issue” in many jurisdictions, to the requirements for the Firearms ID Card. The FID Card is required for long guns, air guns, and such non-firearms as pepper spray and model rocket engines.

Massachusetts is one of eight states that require some sort of permit to purchase long guns, and one of only seven that register them (some states apply these laws only for “assault weapons”); if this provision passes, MA will be the only state that makes a routine long-gun permit subject to the whim of the issuing authority.

DeLeo. He may fear guns, but cholesterol will get him.

DeLeo. He may fear guns, but it’ll be cholesterol that gets him.

DeLeo, who recently came out ahead on a photo finish with a Federal grand jury that indicted a number of his friends, aides, supporters and family members in a jobs-for-cash scandal in the Probation Office, is unlikely to propose anything that is a threat to organized crime, to which he is at least well disposed, if not well connected.

It’s unlikely even an indictment would inconvenience DeLeo. In the one-party-state that is Massachusetts, the three previous Speakers of the State House are convicted felons, and the former Senate President was the brother of, and enabler for, serial killer, mob figure and pedophile Whitey Bulger.

The Bill’s Genesis: A Gun-Control Commission

The Speaker commissioned a Gun Violence Commission of anti-gun activists to propose new restrictions after the Sandy Hook shootings. Representatives included academic activists; politicians; a Soros-funded Harvard economist; a political and anti-gun Chief of Police whose very brief experience as a police officer was hassling open-container violators as a Brandeis U campus officer; a representative of the mentally ill; and a criminal defense attorney as a representative of criminal gangs. No pro-gun individuals were named to the commission, although some were interviewed on one day of the Commission’s nine-month effort, and another day was spent grilling FFLs.

The Commission expressed distress that the state had slid in the Brady Center’s ratings from 3rd to 6th most prohibitory state, and offered a variety of proposals to recapture previous heights. To give you an example of a point they thought they were reasonably compromising with gun owners on, they considered, but in the end did not adopt, a proposal that all guns must be stored at licensed ranges. They also backed down from requiring guns to be forfeit in cases of “a divorce, loss of employment or other personal crises,” but they urged this and the final bill proposes a study along these lines.

The Commission blames “lax laws in New Hampshire” for Boston gun crime. But those lax laws have not produced a similar crime wave in Maine or, for that matter, New Hampshire. They explain this by saying that those states are rural and therefore crime-free. MA does have a high population density at 840/mi compared to NH’s 147/mi. But Connecticut’s is 739/mi and Rhode Island’s is 1006/mi, and how do they fare in violent crime per capita?


So who are we going to believe, the Commission, or the lyin’ numbers? But remember, these people are real academics with degrees and everything (one of the principal authors is a gun control activist finishing her master’s. Oooh. She’s special!)

The DeLeo bill incorporates the recommendations of the gun control activists with only a few exceptions. The committee report can be found at Northeastern University.

Results of the Last Bill

The last major change in MA gun laws was 1998, passed over the veto of Governor Romney. That law, Section 180, has had one result that its promoters boasted in ’98: MA has the most gun-hostile legal environment in the Northeast, and arguably the nation. The rest of its results, though, run contrary to what its promoters claimed was their objectives:

  • Massachusetts has a much higher homicide rate than any other New England State.
  • Massachusetts has about double the violent crime rate than other New England States, and a higher violent crime rate than New York.


  • Gun Homicides have roughly doubled, in absolute terms. (The population of the state is stable to down).



(Note also, that gun homicides are about half of MA homicides annually).

  • Gun Related Hospital Discharge Assaults have trebled.


  • Gun Related Emergency Room Visits have trebled.


  • Massachusetts’s gun suicide rate is stable since 1998, but non-gun suicides have soared.
  • There is no effect on the rate of fatal gun accidents, which is almost immeasurably low.


Our Reading of the Bill

Language available here.

Under the new bill, private sales, which are already very difficult in Mass., are banned outright.

There is a remarkable ex post facto law requiring any person who was at any time after 1 Jan 94 a gun dealer, but is no longer, to transmit duplicate records to a state office and the BATF now or face a criminal fine.

Any dealers still sticking it out are responsible for the criminal and mental health records, if any, of every one of their employees.

The “Secretary of Public Safety” has new powers, advised by a “Gun Control Advisory Board” of volunteer (but paid, we think) gun-control activists. Those powers include not just the ability, but the requirement to issue an expanded ban list of “large capacity rifles, shotguns, firearms and feeding devices,” three times a year.

The secretary may amend the roster upon his own initiative or with the advice of the gun control advisory board or the attorney general. A person may petition the secretary to place a weapon on, or remove a weapon from, the roster, subject to the provisions of this section. A person who so petitions shall give the reasons why the roster should be so amended.

All crime guns must now be traced, and the Colonel (top banana) of the State Police must furnish an annual report on these traces to the press and to gun control activists in academia and nonprofit groups.

Under the new bill, every license holder (which will now include every .22 and shotgun owner) must list all weapons owned every time they interact with the licensing authorities. An error or omission is enough to send them for prison and “get their guns off the street.”

Failing to report theft or loss of a firearm is now permanent revocation of licenses, and a felony, and so is failing to report recovery of a previously lost firearm.

Mandatory minimum for some gun crimes is now 7 years. (This appears to apply to real violent crime, such as carjackings and armed robberies and burglaries. Unfortunately even the current sentence is seldom applied because soft on crime prosecutors don’t charge this offense).

Home defense will now be illegal. Failing to store a firearm under lock and key, with ammunition under separate lock and key, is a felony.

Having a weapon stolen is sufficient proof that it wasn’t secured adequately, which is now a felony with a long prison sentence, depending on the magazine capacity of the weapon, up to 14 years.

BB guns, air rifles and Airsoft toys are redefined as “firearms” in an expansive new definition.


 “Firearm” shall mean any pistol, revolver, rifle or smoothbore arm from which a shot, bullet or pellet can be discharged by whatever means.

There are some other interesting parts of the bill. There’s a section that appears to require school resource officers, but that also offers all school and public officials absolute immunity for any negligence, lapse or failure of school security.

There’s a requirement that hunter and firearms safety classes must now include an extraneous block of instruction on suicide prevention. Phone numbers for two suicide hotline must now be printed on the license to carry.

There appears to be a requirement that physicians collect gun ownership data from their patients, although it’s hard to understand because it’s written at DeLeo’s 6th Grade education level.

There is a requirement that even mental evaluation hospitalizations produce a lifetime firearms disability which may be lifted by a court if the individual petitions and a mental health professional pronounces him or her cured — but that the court may not, at its sole discretion.

There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors about people with firearms disability for mental illness or felonies having rights restored

If the circumstances regarding the person’s disqualifying condition and the person’s record and reputation are determined to be such that: (i) the person is not likely to act in a manner that is dangerous to public safety; and (ii) the granting of relief would not be contrary to the public interest.

What this is, is the exception for the “connected.”

Gun shops have to post suicide prevention posters. Because, everyone knows a suicide just needs a pithy phrase on a poster, and a worthless 800 number that brings a SWAT team to kill you, or at least trash your place.

What’s Next?

This bill is not law yet. It will go to the floor of the legislature, where the less anti-gun Western Mass. legislators and the more anti-gun Greater Boston legislators will both try to amend it. The anti-gun legislators have a pretty solid lock on the State House, so the bill may get worse before it passes. The governor will sign any anti-gun bill that’s brought before him.

10 thoughts on “Massachusetts Bill Extends ‘May Issue’ to Hunting Rifles, Shotguns

  1. Mike

    Here is the full text from GOAL (Gun Owners Action League)

    To clarify about MA “private sales”, technically they weren’t really private, because you were supposed to submit an online form to the Mass. State Police that was basically a 4473 stating who you sold the gun to, their permit #, etc.

    Items of note (already mentioned in the article):

    SECTION 18. [Reducing Gun Trafficking] Requires all secondary market gun sales to take place at a
    location operated by a licensed firearms dealer and requires the dealer to submit pertinent information
    to DCJIS.
    No more “private” sales.

    SECTION 30. [Reducing Gun Trafficking] Requires applicants for the renewal of a license to carry to list
    guns they still own or have lost, sold or acquired since the date of the last renewal or issuance.

    Section 122B. No person shall sell ammunition in the commonwealth unless duly licensed.

    On the bright side, they’re switching to NICS from DCJIS, removing the Class B license, removing the 90 day renewal period,
    SECTION 27. [Ninety Day Renewal Process] Requires the licensing authority to provide an applicant for a
    license with a receipt indicating it received the application.

    They’ll be publishing the AG’s super secret “approved weapons roster”
    SECTION 32. [Consistency Among State Laws] Requires EOPSS to consult with AG’s office in publishing its
    weapons roster and prohibits EOPSS from including on the roster, the make and model of any weapon,
    the sale of which would constitute an unfair or deceptive trade act or practice pursuant to section 131K
    of chapter 140 or section 2 of chapter 93A.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Edited to Add: Mike, thank you very much for your comment. Any comment from someone actually “in the arena” is welcome.

      Actually, your link is the GOAL summary of the legislation, but GOAL also has the full text. I worked off the full text and GOAL’s summary is probably being developed with MA lawyers and law experts. IANAL and I am not, thank a merciful God, a resident of Massachusetts. So I would defer to GOAL’s analysis.

      Goal now has all the key docs linked on one page:

      Having the cops come to my house to confiscate my guns because my LTC A expired — while I was in combat on the other side of the world with the MA ARNG — was one of two things that drove me out of state (where my guns were already stored while I was away, to the frustration of the local fuzz). The other was the 08 initiative petition on taxes. MA voters voted for higher income taxes by 70/30 and I thought, “my God! That’s the ratio between tax eaters and tax payers in this wannabe Zimbabwe.” So it was exit, stage left.

      GOAL also makes a point which I missed whilst stealing all their crime graphs for this post: during the time since the Section 180 Law that crime in forty-something states has gone down and in MA has increased “drastically,” licensed gun owners have declined by 80%. It’s almost like the licensed gun owners’ health and well being is somehow inverse to that of the homicidal sports figures (Remy, Hernandez) and the other hood rats who do all the murders.

      This law shows that DeLeo and whoever’s dropping the coins into his slot are going for that last 20%. He, at least, may be dumb enough to believe this will have an effect on crime, beyond turning the whole state into a VDZ.

        1. Y.

          Isn’ all of this just a covert initiative of NH real estate developers?

          I’ve once traversed a parking lot on the good side of the New Hamster/PDRM border, and I swear, half of the cars there had bumper stickers proclaiming they feel great/lucky/relieved to have escaped MA.

          1. Hognose Post author

            Our license plates say “Live free or die,” a famous postwar exhortation by Revolutionary War hero John Stark. And my favorite bumper sticker says “Live free, or live in Massachusetts.”

      1. StukaPilot

        the gun-grabbers aren’t at all stupid. They want more crime. And, like DeLeo, many are themselves vicious criminals: see Bloomberg and his “Mayors Against Gun” whatever. More crime = more gubmint. Ultimately, there are substantial chunks of the (non-group entitled) population whom the Oligarchs intend to liquidate. Much easier to do if they are disarmed first.

  2. robroysimmons

    Nothing wrong with stats and all but it still seems the anti-gun propaganda carries the day in MA. Sometimes the simple truth stated forcefully and repeatedly and consistently works best in politics.

  3. Jim

    Jesus this is a depressing story. Also a timely reminder for those of us in other states (I’m in PA) that may have better legal protection/political situation now, that we, too, are just one or two election cycles away from similar madness. If the doings in states like MA and NJ aren’t enough to get my fellow gun owners riled up and fighting mad for the next election, I don’t know what will.

    Also, while I know how hard it can be to move a business (especially in displacing long-term, highly skilled workers), I can’t for the life of me understand why Smith & Wesson stays in a state where the political class is so hostile to its business, and its customers.

  4. TheSpartanMonkey

    Out of curiosity, I did some research.

    Here’s a link to the actual bill:

    See line 511: section 30 does not require you to list the firearms you own, only that you had to sign an affidavit affirming that none of your firearms have been lost or stolen.
    Someone said it originally required you to list firearms, but was then changed. But I can’t find any earlier copy of that bill that corroborates that.

    Also, I cannot find where the bill states that ammunition needs to be stored separately than firearms. states that firearms be stored in a locked container or with a trigger lock. It states nothing regarding whether the firearm must be unloaded when stored. If I’ve missed something, please let me know.

  5. ung_427

    This will happen more often as we elect people with lower and lower IQ levels. The lowest of the lowest IQ’s will always focus on the tool used, the inanimate object used in a crime rather than lay responsibility where it belongs. Rather than give people the benefit of the doubt it is easier for them to just throw a blanket over everyone just like we are in the military. Someone screws up, we all loose our rights. Someone cuts themselves with scissors, remove all scissors. What does this do? It dumbs down everyone. Reminds me of a friend of mind who came from India where gun ownership is prohibited. When he saw my rifle his first question was, “Can it kill someone?” My response was, “Anything can kill someone, why do you ask?” and I showed him how to hold it, he was using the wrong eye and wanted to put it down before it kills someone. This is what the stupidity of gun laws does to people. It makes them sheep for the slaughter and doesn’t do any better to their intelligence either. Is there anything in life that you need to be so responsible with? No, everything that required discrimination and care, and creativity, and intelligent decisions has been banned. It’s pretty sad. When the day comes where our own politicians have become like the politicians in MA, I am moving my family to New Zealand, where people still have common sense.

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