That being said, Massachusetts does not have a firearm registration system, per se. However, the personal sale, transfer or acquisition of firearms by a Massachusetts resident must be recorded with the Massachusetts Firearms Records Bureau. Therefore, there is a de facto registration requirement, but it does not apply in all cases. Registration is accomplished by completing a “FA-10” (hard copy) or “E-FA-10” (electronically-submitted) form. The submission of an FA-10 or E-FA-10 is required when:
1. You personally buy or sell a firearm in a personal transaction (of which you are permitted only four (4) per calendar year);
2. You are a Massachusetts resident and obtained a firearm from an out-of-state dealer;
3. The loss or theft of a firearm (additional requirements apply);
4. You acquire a firearm by inheritance.
Additionally, the E-FA-10 system will permit you to “register” firearms in other circumstances, such as:
1. You moved into Massachusetts from out-of-state, and wish to register your firearms;
2. You are in possession of firearms where no previous FA-10 has been submitted.
3. You have surrendered a firearm to the police.
The launch of the E-FA-10 system in Massachusetts this past year was met with significant opposition from the firearms community, as it inaccurately describes the law, and would seem to coerce registration in circumstances where no registration is required. For example, there is no current statutory requirement that the firearms, brought in from out of state when a new Massachusetts resident moves from another state, must be “registered” or an FA-10 must be submitted. Be careful not to confuse a relocation situation, though, with the requirement to register firearms purchased from an out-of-state dealer.
Given the intricacies of Massachusetts firearms laws and the unique legal issues facing firearms owners in the Commonwealth, it is advisable to have an attorney who understands and practices in firearms law, criminal law and civil litigation.