Getting a gun: How does it work?

By Benjamin Solomon, Staff Writer

The recent shooting in Las Vegas has once again brought the gun regulation debate to the forefront of American politics. Is there enough regulation? Would government intervention help prevent more shootings or just infringe on people’s rights?

This article does not aim to answer those questions. Instead, this article will describe the process of acquiring a firearms license and then a firearm under Massachusetts law. After that, judgement is up to you, the reader.

According to the mass.gov website, there are two types of firearm licenses available: a Firearms Identification Card (FIC); or a License to Carry (LTC).

FICs permit an individual to “possess non-large capacity rifles, shotguns, and ammunition” according to the same site.

LTCs permit an individual to “purchase and possess all large and non-large capacity firearms, rifles, shotguns, and ammunition” along with allowing possession of a concealed handgun.

The first step to getting a gun is to contact one’s local police department. Forms are required to be acquired there and submitted in person. This application includes two personal references and a reason why a license is desired, along with record of past criminal offenses.

Who can get a firearm licenses? US citizens and green card holders who are 15 years old with parent’s permission or 18 years old can get an FIC. US citizens and green card holders are required to be 21 years old in order to get a LTC.

Non-resident aliens can also get a more limited version of the LTC which doesn’t permit handgun possession. They have to apply through the Firearm Records Bureau (FRB).

In order to get these licenses, one must take (and pass) an approved firearms safety course and basic hunter education course.

After 40 days, the state government is required to either accept or deny your application based on whether you have any reason to be denied a license. Once granted, your license will last for six years.

Once you get your license, how do you get your gun?

You can buy a gun from directly from another private owner. They are restricted to selling up to four firearms per year and you are required to report the exchange to the FRB. There is state gun transaction website to do this.

In order to purchase a firearm from out of state, Mass., law requires that both states’ laws be followed, and the Mass., gun transaction website to be used by the buyer and the seller.

Guns can also be bought from regular firearms dealers. They are required to first fill out some forms and use a federal database to conduct a background check on you. This check is meant to find out if you have a criminal background which might bar you from owning a gun. After this the dealer puts the transaction information in the same website as the previous options.

There are additionally restrictions on which firearms may be purchased. Not all handguns may be bought with a LTC (even though it allows handguns). Massachusetts has a list of permitted firearms called an Approved Weapons Roster which restricts guns that don’t meet the standards of their lab testing. This excludes antique guns and guns made before 1998, along with “primitive firearms” like muskets.

This is the process of getting a gun in Massachusetts. What do you think about it?

Here’s what a few students thought when presented with this information:

“Who’s to say that the buyer reports the transaction to the correct states? While it is required, are there checks done in order to ensure people don’t get by without reporting a purchase?” questioned one David Austin.

“Seems all right to me,” said Rick Harrison.

“These laws are pretty complex but don’t do anything. The state of Massachusetts regulating guns is useless because someone can just bring them in from another state. Do our laws protect against guns from states with different laws?” said Eric Pires.

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