Newton Sees Increase in Large-Capacity Gun Permits

See how many gun permits were issued in Newton 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 26 percent in Newton since 2008, according to state records.

"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.

While the Class A large capacity permits have increased, the Class B non-large capacity permits in Newton have stayed relatively flat over the last five years, increasing by just three permits between 2008 and 2012.

One number that may bring interest is the license to possess a machine gun; in Newton, that number has doubled over the last five years from six permits to 12. It is important to note, however, that Massachusetts law only allows these permits to be issued to firearms instructors and gun collectors.

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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 Newton residents has increased for large-capacity 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

48 49 52 50 51

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 Newton? Are you surprised at the jump in permit applications for large-capacity weapons? Let us know in the comments section below.

Janet Sterman January 22, 2013 at 05:16 PM
I am not opposed to gun ownership - but the question I have is what do today's gun owners feel they are protecting - wealth? access to food? personal safety? freedom? Inaccuracies in reporting along with media rages on public gun violence in this country creates fear among the masses. The left responds with wanting to legislate/control the weaponry. The right responds by buying more guns. Are the fears real or perceived? Perhaps a piece of the problem is understanding how far either side will to go to justify these fears.
Karla Vallance January 22, 2013 at 09:01 PM
Janet, I just want to be clear about your comment; are you finding inaccuracies in our reporting, and is that creating fear? If so, please let us know where you believe us to be inaccurate; we would want to address that immediately, as I believe most other news media would, too.
Robert L. Cerra January 22, 2013 at 09:11 PM
If we want to feel good and fool ourselves into believing we have done something that will help stop the mass shootings we should enact more restrictive gun legislation. there are an estimated 330 million weapons in circulation in the United States. Unless we are prepared to begin confiscating weapons it is foolish to think we can stop the flow of guns enought to affect the gun crimes that are being committed. We already have one of the most severe gun penalties in the United States - the Bartley-Fox gun law- a one year mandatory sentence for the illegal possession of a weapon: it is rarely enforced and it hasn't affected the shooting gallery atmosphere in Boston and some of the other cities in Massachusetts. concentration our efforts on large capacity magazines and assualt weapons completely ignores the fact that the vast number of a murders and assaults are committed with a handgun. Keeping weapons out of the hands of mentally unstable individuals is almost impossible. There is no cross checking of records between gun applicants and individuals who have been committed to a psychiatric institution and the suggestion that we should begin doing that has already been met with resistance from "privacy advocates" Some might consider ownership of a firearm a civil rights issue; gun owners are protecting their 2nd ammendment rights and the gun control advcates seek to deny that right. that analogy is provactive,but it fits.
Sheila Leavitt January 31, 2013 at 04:08 AM
http://www.statemaster.com/graph/cri_mur_wit_fir-death-rate-per-100-000 Massachusetts, at 3.1 gun deaths per 100,000 people, has the lowest rate in the US (only Hawaii is lower) and the strictest gun control laws. What is not good about this?
Adam Maleson February 03, 2013 at 03:43 AM
We live in an age of technological marvels. You are using one of these modern marvels at this very moment to read this. We have the knowledge and ability to make magic happen every day. We have the ability to create instruments of self-defense that are non-lethal. There is no valid reason for continuing to depend on gunpowder-propelled metal bullets to stop an assailant. This is antiquated technology in this age of modern miracles. In a couple decades there will be ni combustion engines except on museums. The same is true for guns. There is no excuse for anybody being hit by bullets anymore. Paranoia and bloodthirstiness fuels those who advocate gun ownership. It is time to beat the swords into plowshares, the spears into pruning hooks, and the guns into paperweights. Amen


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