The right to have a firearm is found in the United Stated Constitution within the Second Amendment. However, it is not an absolute right, and there are restrictions to owning and possessing a firearm based on state law. Massachusetts is one of the strictest states in the country when it comes to having a firearms and how it is punished if you don't comply. If you do not follow the law and regulations, you can find yourself charged with a firearm offense in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
These laws may seem straight forward but they can get complicated. This is why it is important to hire an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney, if you find yourself charged with a firearm offense. Attorney David Ellison has represented many people on firearm charges throughout his career.
What are Some Examples of Firearm Offenses in Massachusetts?
What is the Definition of a Firearm in Massachusetts?
The definition of a "firearm" comes from Massachusetts General Laws c. 140, § 121. It states the following:
''Firearm'', a stun gun or a pistol, revolver or other weapon of any description, loaded or unloaded, from which a shot or bullet can be discharged and of which the length of the barrel or barrels is less than 16 inches or 18 inches in the case of a shotgun as originally manufactured; provided, however, that the term firearm shall not include any weapon that is: (i) constructed in a shape that does not resemble a handgun, short-barreled rifle or short-barreled shotgun including, but not limited to, covert weapons that resemble key-chains, pens, cigarette-lighters or cigarette-packages; or (ii) not detectable as a weapon or potential weapon by x-ray machines commonly used at airports or walk- through metal detectors.
This means the following three things must be present to prove something is a "firearm":
- First, it must be a weapon;
- Second, it must be capable of discharging a shot or bullet; and
- Third, it must have a barrel length of less than 16 inches. The term “barrel length” refers to “that portion of a firearm . . . through which a shot or bullet is driven, guided or stabilized, and [includes] the chamber."
What are Some Defenses to Firearms Crimes in Massachusetts?
Each case is different and it is important to consult with a lawyer on what defenses you may have if charged with a firearm crime. However, this list provides some examples of potential defenses that could be used depending on the situation.
Illegal Search and Seizure - This may be one of the most popular defenses for a firearm offense. If you feel your 4th Amendment rights were violated, you may be able to file a Motion to Suppress and argue when the police found the firearm, that their search and seizure violated your constitutional rights.
Lack of Knowledge - Certain firearm offenses require you to know about where the firearm is. If you did not know there was a firearm around, you may be able to use this as a defense.
You have a License - If you have a License to Carry or a Firearms Identification Card, you may be able to use that as a defense to a firearms charge, depending on the circumstances.
No Possession - Certain firearm offenses require you to be in possession of the firearm. Possession isn't always so straightforward under the law. This is an area of law that has been appealed many times and there is a lot of appellate case law that says what possession actually is.
Not a Firearm - A firearm has to be a firearm, which usually requires an expert to review whether or not it is a firearm under the definition in Massachusetts law.
Firearms License in Massachusetts
In order to possess or carry a firearm in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, you must first obtain a license to do so. There are a few different licenses, but the most popular ones are the following:
- Firearms Identification (FID) Card
- License to Carry (LTC)
- License to Possess a Machine Gun
You can apply for these at your local Massachusetts police department. In order to obtain these licenses, you will have to complete certain safety courses depending on the license. Certain criminal offenses may make you ineligible to obtain a license for a firearm. If you are charged with a criminal offense and want to possess a firearm, it is important to let your attorney know who is representing you.
If you or a loved one is charged with a Firearms crime in Massachusetts, it is important that you contact an experienced Massachusetts Firearms Offense Lawyer today. Attorney David Ellison is an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer, who has represented many clients on firearms charges throughout his career. Call him today at 401-230-5520.