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Large-Capacity Gun Permits Climb in Concord

See how many gun permits were issued in Concord over the past five years.


The Beretta 92 pistol. The SPAS-12 shotgun.

These are examples of the types of large-capacity firearms for which permits have increased more than 28 percent in Concord since 2008, according to state records. Ownership permits for smaller-capacity firearms have remined more or less flat.

'Large-capacity' firearms are defined by the state of Massachusetts as semi-automatic handguns or rifles with the capacity of more than 10 ammunition rounds in their magazines and shotguns capable of having more than five shells.

The numbers have emerged as state and federal officials have recently proposed new gun restrictions, and imposed others, in the wake of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.


Since 2008, the number of gun permits issued to Concord residents has increased for some types of firearms but remained relatively flat for others, as shown in the chart below and graph in the photo box to the right. 

Police departments in each Massachusetts community review and issue gun permits to anybody that applies and those statistics are forwarded to the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. Patch obtained the records from the EOPSS.








Firearms ID Card






Firearms ID Card (Mace)






Class A, License to Carry Large-Capacity






Class B License to Carry, Non-Large-Capacity






License to Possess A Machine Gun








CLASS A LICENSE TO CARRY: A class A license allows a person to possess or carry all types of ammunition, handguns, rifles, shotguns and large and non-large-capacity magazines, according to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife website. Licensees are also allowed to carry their weapon, loaded or unloaded, while concealed.

Applicants must be 21 or older, pay a $100 fee and pass a firearms safety course or hunters course. However, police departments are allowed to impose restrictions on a class A license. The permit lasts for six years.

CLASS B LICENSE TO CARRY: A class B license allows individuals to have or carry non-large capacity rifles, shotguns (large and non-large capacity) and handguns, according to the DFW website. Licensees must be 21 or older, pay the $100 fee and pass either the firearms or hunters course. Class B applicants are not subject to police restrictions and the license is valid for six years.

FIREARMS IDENTIFICATION CARD: An FID card allows individuals to have or carry non-large capacity rifles, shotguns and ammo, but not handguns, according to the DFW website. Applicants must be 18 or older, pay a $100 fee and pass either the firearms or hunters course. Police have 40 days to issue a written response after an application is filed and denials must be issued in writing. Extra conditions cannot be imposed. Also, for a $25 fee, applicants between 15 and 17 may apply, with parental consent.

Gun owners are not required to retake the safety courses to renew their licenses, according to the state website.

LICENSE TO POSSESS A MACHINE GUN: Licenses to carry machine guns (any gun capable of rapid fire shots through one trigger squeeze) are not issued in Massachusetts. Only firearms instructors and gun collectors are allowed to apply for licenses to possess machine guns.

NON-RESIDENTS: Anybody who is not a resident of Massachusetts can legally carry a non-large capacity rifle or shotgun for hunting as long as they are permitted to carry those in their home state, according to the DFW website. Non-residents are prohibited from buying ammunition in Massachusetts.

LEGAL IMMIGRANTS: As of April 30, 2012, legal immigrants can apply for licenses to carry a firearm as well as a firearms identification card, according to the DFW website. 

APPEALS: Anybody denied a gun permit has the right to appeal, according to state law.


In addition to the license rules, Massachusetts has several other regulations, including: (source: Massachusetts state law).

  • Gun dealers are prohibited from selling assault weapons or large-capacity magazines (e.g. a detachable drum magazine) unless they were bought before Sept. 13, 1994. Examples of assault weapons banned: FN/FAL, Steyr-AUG, TEC-9, Uzis, and AR-15s.
  • Individuals convicted of felonies or misdemeanors that included at least a two-year jail sentence may not apply for a gun permit. Also, anybody convicted of prior gun or drug offenses or violent crimes is also prohibited.
  • Individuals who have been sent to mental health hospitals are prohibited from owning guns unless a doctor issues permission.
  • Individuals who have been treated for substance abuse are barred from owning guns unless a doctor declared the person “cured.”
  • Also, anybody against whom restraining orders have been filed against are also prohibited from having guns.


In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed new rules on guns along with Pres. Barack Obama. Obama has also issued new rules through his executive order powers. 

New Proposed State Gun Rules (Press release from Patrick)

  • Abolishing high-power ammunition.
  • Requiring background checks be performed for gun sales done at gun shows.
  • A limit of one gun purchase per month.
  • Prohibiting anybody under 21 from buying a machine gun.
  • Sharing relevant mental health information with a state database, which would more easily help federal officials perform background checks on prospective gun buyers.
  • Also, Patrick proposed an additional $5 million for increased mental health services.
  • The bill, if passed, would create four new gun crimes, which prosecutors could use to put offenders who use a gun behind bars.
  • New authority would be given to police to arrest individuals without having a warrant if they encounter a dangerous situation.
  • The bill would also increase penalties for having a gun on school grounds.

Obama’s Proposed Gun Regulations (Source: Huffington Post)

New Gun Rules Imposed by Obama (Source: Huffington Post)

  • Modifying health care privacy laws to make more mental health information available for background checks.
  • Authority for police to do background checks before returning a gun seized from its owner.
  • Federal law enforcers must now trace the origins of any gun used in a crime.
  • Increased prosecution of gun crimes.
  • Clarification of the Obama’s health care law to say doctors are allowed to ask patients whether they have a gun in their home.

 What are your thoughts on the kind and number of gun permits issues in Concord? Are you surprised at the jump in permit applications for large-capacity weapons? Let us know in the comments section below.

John Ferris Dow January 23, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Your article is a little misleading. Even though you point out under Gun Prohibitions that it is illegal in Massachusetts to purchase new high capacity clips (magazines),.you focus your article on firearms that are capable of accepting large capacity clips, We have terrific gun control laws in Massachusetts. What happened in Newtown was a result of a legal gunowner improperly storing her guns or allowing her impaired son access to her guns. MA is one of 3 states that imposes the same criminal liabilty to the gun owner as the criminal that uses the improperly stored gun in the commission of a crime. Inner city gun related deaths account for more than 95% of gun related deaths in our country.Those guns are illegally obtained and no gun control will stop that. Funding for education and increased police presence and other politically unattractive solutions are the answers. I agree that the health care privacy act should be waived for anyone applying for a gun permit. We all would be better served if we funded law enforcement to get illegal guns off the streets and out of the hands of criminals. We should stress proper gun storage for legal gun owners through education requirements for gun ownership. What works in MA won't work in Wyoming. When we have the luxury of a police force that responds to a 911 call in 2 minutes we don't have to fear a home invasion that someone in a community that has response times in hours may fear and need a gun for protection.
Patrick Ball January 23, 2013 at 06:02 PM
Thanks, John, for reading and commenting. While you make a fair point, I actually don't think this story is misleading considering high-capacity gun permits that had the most significant increase over the past five years.
Christopher Tanguay January 23, 2013 at 08:59 PM
There's no such thing as a strictly "large capacity permit." What occurred was a spike in Class A permits. That doesn't necessarily mean people were seeking those permits specifically so they could own large capacity firearms. A Class A is the only permit in Massachusetts that allows the holder to carry a concealed weapon. It just so happens that a class A also permits large capacity ownership. For example, an individual may only own a five-shot revolver, which is not a large capacity gun. But if they want to carry it, they need a Class A permit. So the focus should not necessarily be on the large capacity aspect, but rather, the fact that there was an increase in concealed carry permits.
LC January 24, 2013 at 01:46 PM
It may also be worth noting that a Class A permit issued does not always equate to a large-capacity or concealable firearm owned. Many people apply for a Class A permit based on the belief that they should seek the broadest possible permit at the outset in the event state gun control laws are later made more restrictive, even if they have no intention (or desire) to own a large-capacity firearm or to carry a concealed firearm. Whether or not this is a logical position to take is debatable, but as someone who took the state-sponsored hunter education course recently (required in almost every case to obtain any firearm permit in MA, from the FID all the way up to the Class A permit), I can say that many people in that hunter ed. class -- and many others who I have spoken with before and after the class -- indicated that, although they knew the Class A permit was much more than they needed to keep a shotgun for shooting clays at their local shooting club, for example, they planned to apply for a Class A permit anyway, assuming at some point it would alleviate red tape if more stringent gun laws were enacted. Again, I don't necessarily agree with that logic, but it seems to be a motivator for a lot of people and may help explain the big jump in Class A permits issued.
JB February 17, 2013 at 01:49 AM
"Individuals who have been sent to mental health hospitals are prohibited from owning guns unless a doctor issues permission." mmm--what about some people who should have a psychiatric evaluation for extreme anger issues or explosive personality who presently own guns. Point I'm making here is that an absence of any psychiatric history could just mean the gun owner has never been evaluated. How about imposing a mental evaluation as a contingency for purchasing or owning a gun. Extreme anger issues, explosive personality in addition to a proclivity for watching violent movies should be red flags for gun ownership yet they are never explored because the person having those things and also possessing guns never gets those things explored by a mental professional as part of the process for gun ownership.


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