My Turn — Stanley Newbert: Clarifying Mass. gun laws


Published: 5/14/2018 4:13:35 PM

In response to various letters on the subject of gun ownership, I would like to clear up some misconceptions as to what is required and allowed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Many writers are unaware of the law as it now stands and are calling for restrictions that are already in place in Massachusetts, including restrictions on rifles that have been rejected by the nation as a whole at the federal level and by 42 individual states.

One obtains a driver’s license so that one can drive a motor vehicle on the public roads. It is a privilege to operate on the public way, not a right and this is so stated in the state driver’s manual. One does not need a license or insurance to purchase or own a vehicle or to operate it on private property. Some people have no license yet carry insurance on a vehicle they own so they may be chauffeured by a licensed driver.

However, to legally own a gun, which according to the United States Supreme Court is an individual right, in Massachusetts one must apply for a license which costs $100. To obtain this license one must first take a safety course, which costs another $100, have an interview with the local police and pass a state police background check which includes sending your fingerprints to the FBI to be checked against the national database.

To get a license to own a handgun you must state a reason and obtain the permission of your town police chief.

For rifles and shotguns, this specific permission is not needed but all other requirements still apply. This process takes about six weeks.

The license is then hand delivered to the applicant by a local police officer. This license must be presented, along with a PIN number issued by the state, to purchase a gun. One must buy the gun from a federally licensed dealer; even internet and private sales must go through a dealer.

The gun is registered with the state as part of the purchase. A form is also sent to the federal government attesting that you are not a prohibited person. Prohibited persons include convicted felons, those who have been committed to a mental institution, or those who have renounced their citizenship. Many guns, including AR-15 type rifles and other so-called “assault weapons,” bump stocks, and detachable magazines holding more than 10 cartridges are already banned from sale in Massachusetts.

I am originally from East Tennessee, and now reside in West Northfield, which isn’t that much different. Both are beautiful country, but Northfield can be a little colder. I have always had an interest in history, and I am currently an historical interpreter and museum attendant at Historic Deerfield.

It is really a waste of a tree to advocate for restrictions we already have in this state. People in other states are not reading letters to the Recorder, nor do they care what people here think.

At the national level our elected representatives are already in favor of the same restrictions on guns we have here in Massachusetts. However, they are in the minority and lack the votes needed to pass more restrictive laws.

Stanley C. Neubert is a Northfield resident.


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