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 #32  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 lock or not, that is a felony.

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 allot 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 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 can not store ammo with the guns.  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 dresser drawer along with a loaded magazine, in an unlocked house in 2008. I heard the charges in this case were swept under the rug. Err on the side of caution, you probably will not be so lucky,  keep stored guns away from the ammo.

During transportation, regardless of the gun license you may have,  all  ‘long guns’, ( rifles and shotguns) must be unloaded with trigger locks, and 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’.

“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. 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 or Texas.

 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 TV  “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……..

Bear in mind also that there are places you cannot carry 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.

15 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

  • August Tolomeo says:

    Very neat informative blog Mark. Really, thank you! I Will read on…. NOTE: I hope you like what you find, 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

  • Peter says:

    You truly out did yourself this article. I certainly will ‘err on the side of caution’. Well done Mark. NOTE: I too would rather err on the side of caution Peter, especially in Ma., you can not get in trouble for doing more than required, some have no foresight and would rather “roll the dice” when it comes to how the police may percieve things, thats where real financial/court problems can start. MS

  • River says:

    Great Site I am learning a lot Mark. Maybe you could aid me since you seem to be an expert, my friends keep telling me to buy a Kowa spotting scope I’m just not certain, any input would be appreciated Thanks! NOTE: For what I do I only use open sights, have never been big on scopes in general, so I am not really a good resource on the subject. The internet is full of good information on just about everything under the sun, I am sure there are reviews about that make of spotting scope, good luck. MS

  • Tory Turton says:

    Saved your blog post Mark. Are grateful for discussing. Surely well worth the time away from our studies. NOTE: Thanks Tory, MS

  • Anissa H says:

    Wow I have read your article, and by the way I found your website on Bing, and after I read several posts on your website, especially this one, I have my own idea about what I should talk about on the next meeting with my girl friend Mark, maybe tonight I will tell my girl friend about this and start a debate. She is against guns. NOTE: Good luck, sometimes we can convince someone. MS

  • Hunter says:

    Sitting on clearings and bush edges that have a bit of fresh sign will usually produce the goods. If you find such a clearing, figure out a vantage point where you can see most of it, or the bit where deer are entering it and sit downwind on dark/first light. On a freshly used trail, you can sit tight and wait. A deer will meander along it eventually. Just be careful not to scent the area up. I’ve watched stags trotting along with their noses on the ground like a dog, only to hit my ground scent and bound off into the bush! If you’re bush hunting these trails, cruise along them slowly. If you hit fresh sign slow right down, stopping every 20-30 metres for a scan around you. Remember the slower the better. If you hit a nice sunny basin or area with browsing, sit back and watch it for half an hour to an hour. Just take your time. Also, remember when you get the opportunity to shoot your first “deer”…..make sure thats what it is before you pull the trigger! Its easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment….so be safe, be sure. Just get out there…you’ll get onto them eventually. NOTE: Good info for anyone who hunts or would like too. MS

  • Shane says:

    Keep up the good work. Your keeping people ‘aware’. Everyone is open to opinions. Excellent blog here Mark, I am still reading :) NOTE: Thanks Shane, show your friends. MS

  • Gregoria Luing says:

    The most concise and also informed facts I recently found on this topic. I am sure pleased that I saw the web page by accident. I’ll be signing up for your feed Mark to ensure that I’m able to obtain the latest updates. I Like everything here. NOTE: Thank you, MS

  • Nyat says:

    Your blog is so informative Mark … ..I just bookmarked you….keep up the good work!!!!

  • Darin Hampe says:

    This is my first time I have visited here Mark. I found a lot of interesting information in your blog. From the volume of comments on your posts, I guess I am not the only one! keep up the impressive work. NOTE: Thank you Darin, bring your friends. 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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