Licensing Town-by-Town 2015 Data

Massachusetts police chiefs rarely confine exercise of the Second Amendment to the home

Licensing policies and practices vary widely from town to town.  The issuance of restricted Licenses to Carry that prevent a License to Carry from carrying a loaded concealed handgun is one of the most contentious aspects of the regulatory scheme in Massachusetts.  Unlike most states, Massachusetts is unusual in that the possession of any modern firearm or ammunition requires one to have a state issued License to Carry.  By contrast, the residents of almost every other state do not need a license merely to purchase or possess firearms and most states require a license only for the carrying of a concealed firearm. Although Massachusetts requires a license just to possess or purchase a firearm, that license is by default, a license to carry a concealed firearm unless the issuing authority chooses to limit the licenses in some way.  

The most common firearms license in Massachusetts is the Class A License to Carry  firearms.   The License to Carry is issued for "all lawful purposes", but is "subject to such restrictions relative to the possession, use or carrying of firearms as the licensing authority deems proper".  (MGL Chap 140 sec 131).  In order to legally carry a loaded, concealed handgun on a public way, a Massachusetts resident must possess an unrestricted Class A License to Carry.  The decision to impose restrictions on a License to Carry is solely at the discretion of the licensing authority.

In practice the vast majority of Massachusetts police departments rarely, if ever, issue a restricted License to Carry.  State-wide only about 7.5% of the Class A Licenses to Carry issued in 2012 - 2013 were issued with any type of restriction. Those restricted Licenses to Carry are concentrated in just a few towns that continue to be outliers compared to the norm. In fact, only seven towns (Springfield, Brookline, Lowell, Watertown, Somerville, Boston & Longmeadow) have restricted more than 50% of the License to Carry issued in the last two years. 

A license to own a firearm in most cases is a license to carry a firearm

Of the seven states that impose the most onerous burdens on gun ownership, Massachusetts, as a result of universal licensing, erects this highest barrier to actually becoming a gun owner.  However, because the most common firearms license is a 'License to Carry' firearms most gun owners have the ability to carry a functional firearm for personal protection should they chose to do so. 

Firearms licensing data obtained by Comm2A tell us that the ability to own a firearm in Massachusetts generally equates to the ability to carry a firearm.  While one might conclude that most police chiefs in Massachusetts are favorably disposed towards the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the data is limited to actual licenses that have been approved and issued.  Police chiefs still retain wide latitude in licensing decisions and have nearly unfettered discretion in determining who can and cannot exercise their Second Amendment rights.  Many towns that typically issue only unrestricted licenses will deny license for the most trivial reasons. 

2015 Licensing Score Card

 


Active Firearm Licenses

 As of February 2014

 All Cities and Towns LTC/A LTC/B FID
Card
Total
Licenses
Unrestricted Restricted Unrestricted Restricted
Total 271,200 25,367 2,679 777 34,196 334,219
 % 81.1% 7.6% 0.8% 0.2% 10.2% 100%

As of January 2015

All Cities and Towns LTC/A LTC/B FID
Card
Total
Licenses
Unrestricted Restricted Unrestricted Restricted
Total 286,789 25,218 2,532 598 33,338 348,475
% 82.30% 7.24% 0.73% 0.17% 9.57% 100%

As of January 2016

All Cities and Towns LTC/A LTC/B FID
Card
Total
Licenses
Unrestricted Restricted Unrestricted Restricted
Total 321,739  26,458  2,408  498 34,796  385,899 
% 83.37%  6.86%  0.62%  0.13%  9.02%  100% 

 

Firearms Licenses Issued in 2015

 

City or Town LTC/A FID
Card
Total
Licenses Issued
Unrestricted Restricted
Total Licenses Issued in 2014 38,057 3,462 3,263 44,782
  84.98% 7.73% 7.29% 7.46%