Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Properly Storing Firearms

If you are interested in purchasing a firearm (or already have one), it is important to understand how to properly store them. Properly storing firearms is not only a safety issue, it is also required by law. Violations of these laws can lead to significant consequences, even if no injury results.

Safe Storage

It is important to safely store firearms to help prevent another person from discovering them and potentially hurting themselves or another person. This is a particular risk if there are children who visit or live in the home. Properly storing firearms helps prevent against theft. Not only does theft of a firearm cause loss for the owner, it can also lead to the owner being held responsible in some manner if the firearm is then used in some illegal manner.

Under Massachusetts law, individuals must keep their firearms in a secured, locked container or equip them with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device. Firearms must be made inoperable by any person other than the owner or other lawfully authorized users. Mechanical locks include trigger locks or cable locks. These devices encase the trigger assembly to prevent the weapon from being fired. But, while they are intended to prevent the weapon from being fired, the firearm should still be stored unloaded.

Using a mechanical lock can satisfy the law in Massachusetts for properly storing a firearm, but they are not the ideal option. To begin with, mechanical locks do not help in protecting against the theft of the firearm. Further, they are not the safest way to store firearms. Providing more safety are locking storage containers. There are many different kinds of locking containers, ranging from a small pistol safe to very large gun vaults. Gun vaults can be bolted to the floor, are fireproof, and have the ability to store a wide number and types of firearms. Similar to using mechanical locks, firearms should be stored unloaded, even when placed in locking containers.

Penalties for Violations

The penalties for violating the firearms storage laws may result in a fine, jail time, and ineligibility for a firearms license. For example, a violation involving a firearm not considered large-capacity will lead to a fine of between $1,000 and $7,500. The individual may be sentenced to a prison term of up to one and a half years. If the violation occurred in a place where a person under 18 years of age who does not possess a valid firearms identification card issued under Massachusetts law could have accessed the firearm, the penalties include a fine of between $2,500 and $15,000, with a possible prison sentence of between one and a half and 12 years. The penalties for all storage violations are more severe if the firearm is considered a large-capacity weapon.

Criminal Defense Help

The penalties for violating firearms laws are often quite severe. If you have been accused of a firearms violation, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. To schedule a free consultation with Boston criminal defense attorney Edward R. Molari, call our office at 617-942-1532. We look forward to discussing how we can help you.