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Massachusetts Improper Storage of a Firearm Lawyer

Improper Storage of a Firearm is not keeping your firearm stored in a safe locked container or with a proper gun lock. If a firearm is under your control, it is no stored. This can be a very devastating charge if you have a license for a firearm. 

If you are charged with Improper Storage of a Firearm, you do not have to go at it alone. You can hire an experienced Massachusetts firearms criminal defense lawyer to help you. Attorney David Ellison has represented many defendants on Improper Storage of a Firearm throughout his career. 

What are the Elements of Improper Storage of a Firearm in Massachusetts? 

  1. That you stored or kept a firearm, rifle or shotgun;
  2. That you were not carrying the firearm, rifle or shotgun or did not have the firearm, rifle or shotgun under your immediate control; and
  3. That the firearm, rifle or shotgun was not secured in one of two ways — either by storing the firearm, rifle or shotgun in a locked container, or with a properly engaged tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device.

What are the Penalties for Improper Storage of a Firearm?

For a firearm, rifle or shotgun that is not a large capacity weapon:

  • Misdemeanor Criminal Conviction
  • A fine of not less than $1000 nor more than $7,500
  • Up to 1 1/2 years jail in the House of Correction 

For a large capacity weapon or machine gun:

  • Felony Criminal Conviction
  • A fine of not less than $2,000 nor more than $15,000
  • State Prison for a minimum 1 1/2 years and a maximum of 12 years 

For a rifle or shotgun that is not a large capacity weapon and the weapon was stored or kept in a place where a person younger than 18 years of age who does not possess a valid firearm identification card issued under section 129B may have access without committing an unforeseeable trespass:

  • Felony Criminal Conviction
  • A fine of not less than $2,500 and not more than $15,000
  • State Prison for not less than 1 1/2 years nor more than 12 years 

For a rifle or shotgun that is a large capacity weapon, firearm or machine gun that was stored or kept in a place where a person younger than 18 years of age may have access without committing an unforeseeable trespass:

  • Felony Criminal Conviction
  • A fine of not less than $10,000 nor more than $20,000
  • State Prison for not less than 4 years nor more than 15 years

What are Some of the Laws for Improper Storage of a Firearm?

The law on Improper Storage of a Firearm comes from Massachusetts General Laws c. 140, § 131L "Weapons stored or kept by owner; inoperable by any person other than owner or lawfully authorized user; punishment" states the following: 

(a) It shall be unlawful to store or keep any firearm, rifle or shotgun including, but not limited to, large capacity weapons, or machine gun in any place unless such weapon is secured in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device, properly engaged so as to render such weapon inoperable by any person other than the owner or other lawfully authorized user. It shall be unlawful to store or keep any stun gun in any place unless such weapon is secured in a locked container accessible only to the owner or other lawfully authorized user. For purposes of this section, such weapon shall not be deemed stored or kept if carried by or under the control of the owner or other lawfully authorized user.

(b) A violation of this section shall be punished, in the case of a firearm, rifle or shotgun that is not a large capacity weapon, by a fine of not less than $1000 nor more than $7,500 or by imprisonment for not more than 1 1/2 years or by both such fine and imprisonment and, in the case of a large capacity weapon or machine gun, by a fine of not less than $2,000 nor more than $15,000 or by imprisonment for not less than 1 1/2 years nor more than 12 years or by both such fine and imprisonment.

(c) A violation of this section shall be punished, in the case of a rifle or shotgun that is not a large capacity weapon and the weapon was stored or kept in a place where a person younger than 18 years of age who does not possess a valid firearm identification card issued under section 129B may have access without committing an unforeseeable trespass, by a fine of not less than $2,500 nor more than $15,000 or by imprisonment for not less than 1 1/2 years nor more than 12 years or by both such fine and imprisonment.

(d) A violation of this section shall be punished, in the case of a rifle or shotgun that is a large capacity weapon, firearm or machine gun that was stored or kept in a place where a person younger than 18 years of age may have access without committing an unforeseeable trespass, by a fine of not less than $10,000 nor more than $20,000 or by imprisonment for not less than 4 years nor more than 15 years or by both such fine and imprisonment.

(e) A violation of the provisions of this section shall be evidence of wanton or reckless conduct in any criminal or civil proceeding if a person under the age of 18 who was not a trespasser or was a foreseeable trespasser acquired access to a weapon, unless such person possessed a valid firearm identification card issued under section 129B and was permitted by law to possess such weapon, and such access results in the personal injury to or the death of any person.

(f) This section shall not apply to the storage or keeping of any firearm, rifle or shotgun with matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap or similar type of ignition system manufactured in or prior to the year 1899, or to any replica of any such firearm, rifle or shotgun if such replica is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition. 

Important Case Law:

Commonwealth met its burden of proving that the gun was not under defendant's control for purposes of ALM GL c 140, § 131L(a); the gun was stored in the pocket of a jacket hanging in an upstairs closet, defendant was downstairs, and the gun was out of its holster, which was lying on the kitchen floor. Children were present, including a boy who at times was closer to the gun than was defendant. Commonwealth v. Patterson 79 Mass. App. Ct. 316, 946 N.E.2d 130, 2011.  

What Does It Mean to Have a Firearm Under Your Control and Not Stored?

The weapon shall not be deemed stored or kept if carried by or under the control of the owner or other lawfully authorized user. M.G.L. c. 140, § 131L(a). “Carried” requires actual physical possession of the firearm, and “under the control” requires that a person be sufficiently nearby the firearm to prevent immediately its unauthorized use. Commonwealth v. Reyes, 464 Mass. 245, 258 n.19 (2013), citing Commonwealth v. Patterson, 79 Mass. App. Ct. 316, 319 (2011).

If you or a loved one has been charged with Improper Storage of a Firearm, do not hesitate to contact Massachusetts Improper Storage of a Firearm Lawyer today at 401-230-5520. 

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When you hire Attorney David Ellison, not only are you getting a skilled, experienced, and aggressive lawyer in your corner, but you're getting a lawyer who understands the importance of empathy, honesty, and trustworthiness. Attorney Ellison is a lawyer who loves to advocate for you.

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