Hello, I am not a lawyer, this is my attempt to make certain that you will understand the two main criteria set down, at this time, on how we should handle firearms  in Massachusetts. I decided to try and translate this from ‘lawyers leagalise’ to common English, that we mere mortals could then vaguely understand it. I believe that they are vague in order for the courts to ‘interpret’ them any which way they feel like interpreting them depending on the circumstances. NOTE: [Be aware, it is up to you to keep up on the murky gun laws if you own firearms, (but, as a courtesy I send my past clients any changes to gun laws by email.  MS] (see my Gun Sense contents  for latest updates)-

The ‘new’ gun law, (not quite so new now), Chapter 180 of the acts of 1998, will take affect on or about October 21, 1998. Note:{As of that date anyone having a Firearm Identification Card (FID)  marked ‘indefinate’ will no longer be honored and you will need to  renew it every six (6) years thereafter- MS.}

The following precautions  are advised to avoid perceptions/misconceptions and or laws, leading to arrest, felony charges, confiscation of guns, and suspension or revocation of your (FID) card or (LTC) License to carry.

This is taken from Chapter 140 MGL, Section 131L. (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, (unloaded) in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical, (trigger) 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. Note: If you store a loaded firearm trigger locked or in a locked container, that is a felony, it MUST be stored UNLOADED.

NOTE:  There is no definition under the MGL Chapter 140 for the  term ‘secured in a locked container’, container being the key word. So I decided to crack open a dictionary, {Websters Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language} to come up with that nugget of information. Container: “Anything that contains, or can contain something, as a carton, box, crate, can, etc. (NOTE; ‘etc.‘  can cover a lot of things, such as a secured and locked house for instance.) Under the definition of ‘contain’ I found this for instance; ‘To keep under proper control’.  Also under the definition of House: to remove from exposure; to put in a safe place; to stow securely. So, in short, a ‘secured locked container’ is also a house! Note: Anything can be compromised by a determined criminal, you can only do your best.

NOTE:  There are huge penalties/charges for improper storage of your firearm(s) and the associated ammunition, so again, use good judgement, don’t try to ‘split’ hairs, be proactive.  Also if you own one of those nice gun safes with the little compartments for ammo built into it, they did not construct the safe with anti gun Ma. in mind, you should not store ammo in the  safe with your guns, again, why make it easy for the criminal. But remember, nowhere in the law does it specifically say that you cannot store ammo with the guns.  NOTE: This is not in the Ma. gun laws under chapter 140, but as far as storage of ammunition, it is in: [527 Board of Fire Prevention Regulations M.G.L chapter 148-13] It states; Small arms ammo, primers, smokeless propellants and black powder shall be stored in original containers and such containers shall be stored in a locked cabinet, closet or box when not in use.

A State police lieutenant from Sandwich was charged with a felony, for improper storage of a firearm. He had left an unlocked, unloaded gun in a unlocked dresser drawer along with a loaded magazine, in an unlocked house in 2008. I heard the charges in this case may have been swept under the rug…. Err on the side of caution, you probably will not be so lucky,  keep stored guns away from the ammo, be proactive.

During transportation, regardless of the gun license you may have,  all  ‘long guns’, ( rifles and shotguns) must be unloaded with trigger locks, in a carry case,  box, or bag, or you can lock the case without trigger locks on the guns, your choice, but a lock has to be somewhere. Even with a LTC with no restrictions, onlyhandgun may be carried loaded in a motor vehicle, and only if it is under your ‘Direct Control’ (within your reach).

“Direct Control”: This means under your immediate control, within arms reachNOTE: {If you are watching television in the family room and your handgun/’any gun’,  is loaded upstairs in the master bedroom it is not considered under your direct control, that would be labled as a felony, (improper storage of a firearm). Again, the gun described in that situation would need to be in the ‘Stored or Kept’ condition, otherwise it would be a felony. Of course Direct Control applies to rifles and shotguns to a lessor degree, normally they would be stored unless being used in a hunting or gun club activity, certainly, most of us do not walk around our homes clutching a loaded shotgun, though legally you could……..{your call}.  Handguns are carried far more frequently ‘on your person’ and under your ‘Direct Control’ for personal protection, than long guns would be.  When in public you need to ensure hand guns are concealed so as not to be arrested on the ‘perception’ made by most police who think they must be concealed, and to avoid a public panic. Please read  Gun Sense #15, Concealed or Not Concealed, That is the Question….  Long guns should be cased in public, (by law) and also to protect your investment, to avoid sending the general public at large into a panicked frenzy of 911 calls. Remember, we are not in Maine, Texas, Alaska, Arizona or any other free state.

 NOTE: Be certain your handgun is concealed and you will avoid all kinds of irrational hysteria, that channel 7 news helicopter buzzing overhead, 300 swat team members closing in on you from all sides, costly lawyers fees, 5 soccer moms screaming frantically on 10 TV stations  “think of the children!”, etc., you should get the picture, I hope. Just remember, you are in Massachusetts,…. avoid the headaches. As always, err on the side of caution…….. be proactive.

Bear in mind also that there are places you cannot carry, (see GS#35) and these include: Schools, (without written permission), Professional Sport Arenas, Banks, Hospitals, Federal Buildings, Court Houses, a house of worship/church etc., Airports (you may transport guns only with prior notification through your airline), and anywhere that may be posted ‘no guns allowed’. Should you carry in a bar?  Not if your going to be drinking. If your found to be drunk in possession of a gun, your going to be prosecuted, lose your license, so use your head. When in doubt call ahead first to see if where your going has an anti-gun policy. Above all else, please use your good judgement. See- Common Sense? The meaning has ‘flip flopped’

Mark Shean, written on 6-4-2010  www.mafirearmsafety.com

Your comments/insight are welcomed.

5 Responses to “Gun Sense #22, Ma. ‘Stored & Kept’ and ‘Direct Control’”

  • nelly says:

    I must say I find it slightly ironic that a Law Abiding Citizen cannot carry in a bank that is most likely to be robbed. Alot of banks may not have gotten robbed if a patron was carrying-But the law is the law. How is it that the criminals get away with murder “literally” and those of us who have an honest regard for our life and that of others are restricted? As always I appreciate every post I have read of yours and I am very thankful to have taken your course. Not only do you guide your students during your class but you give us a place to learn whether gun sense or politically, you are an ongoing influence to those you have taught. I would recommend you to anyone who has an intrest in learning about firearm safety because your class was the most informative class I have ever attended (and I have gone to a few club courses and hunting courses). Thank you again for your knowledge and giving us a place to share ours. Nelly- NOTE: Thanks Nelly, You already know where I stand (unofficially) on certain issues. Mark

  • John says:

    Please point me to the detail on this “Also if you own one of those nice gun safes with the little compartments for ammo built into it, they did not construct the safe with Ma. in mind, you should not store ammo in the fancy safe with your guns at this time. I believe ammo can be stored in a safe with guns.

    NOTE: You can verify this through the Framingham Ma. State Police at 508-988-7434, ask for Ina Hoyle, she is in charge of licensing John. Tell her Mark Shean sent you. ;) MS

  • John says:

    Mark no need for a follow-up. I spoke to my local Chief and Atty Jesse Cohen today and confirmed I was correct…ammo can be stored in the same container. I’m not sure why you think it is illegal…Please also see the many posts here on the same. NOTE: John, there is no wording in the law that actually says you can store ammo in with the guns, that is only your assumption. Point to me the paragraph, or even one sentence that explicitly says that you can…….. It certainly is not in Chap. 140 sec. 131L. It also confirms to me that you did not call the State Police # I gave to you. If you give me a real email address (name?) I will point something out to you that will show you why I think the way I do. Better yet, have J. Cohen or your chief point out to you the wording where it says you can, I would be very interested to see where they dig those words up…show me those words and you win this debate……..Thank you. respectfully, MS

  • Kevin says:

    “Secured locked container is a house”? I respectfully disagree. Putting something under lock and key would prevent other occupants from possessing the gun. Locking it in the house does not.

    You have to think of the purpose of the law and the ordinary meaning of words. “Locked container” allows things like locked desk drawers, tool boxes with pad locks, etc. It does not have to be a three thousand-dollar fireproof gun safe. One of the reasons for the law is preventing children and persons without gun knowledge from injuring themselves. The law knows that determined thieves can open almost anything. A gun safe is certainly a good idea.

    I don’t necessarily like the legal mandate, but the behavior the law requires is practical, something I was taught when first introduced to guns. Almost every child will snoop around and get into the guns and ammo. Teenage boys love to show off and show their friends Dad’s guns. The friends tell their parents and then the problems can start. At the very least, good practice is to child proof guns and ammunition.

  • Mark Shean says:

    Hello Kevin, Thank you for your opinion/comment. When I talk of secured in a locked house I mean a house that is empty of occupants. Absolutely anything that is secured can be comprimised, but if you live alone and you know every door and every window is secure your house in essense becomes a locked container. The term ‘locked container’ is not defined in the law as to certain items or items of a certain size range. Of course it is better to have it locked in something else, and you should try, I dont try to say otherwise, but at some point the criminal has to become responsible for his concerted actions, and the second he comprimises your locked window(s) or door(s) he has broken the law. We can only do the best we can do. As far as kids snooping or teens playing show and tell with guns, that is where education early on in their life comes in, from their parents. Please read # 3 Gun Sense. Sincerely M.S.

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