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05-28-2008, 12:03 PM #1
MA Handgun Compliance Q+A Thread (new)
I decided to start this thread because of the enormous amount of questions
we get on this issue.
Any URLs that you guys want me to add to the sticky, please post in
MA Handgun Compliance Q+A/FAQ:
Q: How do I know if a handgun is "MA compliant" or not? How do all these rules/lists I keep hearing about affect me?
A: MA Handgun Compliance laws/regs are dealer based and primarily have an effect on what MA FFLs can sell or transfer to consumers.
In the most basic terms, there are really FIVE categories of MA handgun compliance at the dealer level:
1. Handgun is currently "MA compliant" on EOPS roster and AG's regs. EG- the stuff you see new in most MA gun stores.... S+W M+P, SW1911s, etc, etc, etc... law is must be on roster plus be (somehow) compliant with the AG's insane regulations.
2. Handgun is currently listed on new EOPS Target Roster (see below for current URL)
3. Pre 98 documented - (eg, owner has paperwork showing it was owned/registered in MA before 10/21/98) = completely exempt from AG and EOPS regs. Doesn't matter what the handgun is, etc, as long as that paperwork is there. Also doesn't matter WHERE the handgun currently is either, as long as the paperwork is there. I once had a friend of mine that moved out of MA but had "MA guns" with paperwork intact. He could still transfer them back in the state to a new MA owner, because they were "registered and in the state on/before 10/21/98".
4. Pre 98 on EOPS roster but AG exempt - handgun is on EOPS roster and exempted from AG's regs, by virtue of having been manufactured before 10/21/98. Example here is a typical Glock made before 10/21/98.
5. handgun is on EOPS roster but buyer is a LEO. This situation exempts the dealer from the AG's regs because the customer is a LEO. In this case it doesn't matter when the gun was made, only that the gun was tested and put on the roster.
Edit: Some readers may be wondering what any guns that don't fit into these categories are... the answer is. they're not "MA compliant" by either the AG''s or EOPS regs, or only by EOPS and not the AG's regs... but it should be noted that "MA compliance" is an issue of dealer transfers and has nothing to do with individual possession or private sale. EG- mere possession of a noncompliant handgun, is NOT a criminal offense. This can't be stated enough, as many in MA improperly use terms like "illegal in MA" or "banned in MA" to describe a handgun which a dealer cannot sell or transfer.
Q: Isn't there an AG's list of which handguns pass both the EOPS and AG's regs?
A: No, not that anyone is aware of. Basically the only mechanism that is used for AG compliance is either the AG whining about it, or not after a manufacturer or dealer makes a statement that the gun is "AG reg compliant" and attempts to start selling it.
Q: My dealer doesn't agree with these standards! His are stricter than the above!!!!
A: Some dealers are overly paranoid and don't completely understand the law. Others rely on bad
sources of information to determine what is or is not compliant.
Q: My dealer doesn't agree with these standards! his are LESS STRICT than the above.
A: Some dealers may be defiant or not know the law very well.
Q: My LEO friend says he can get any handgun he wants from XYZ dealer, this doesn't agree with the above!?!?!
A: Some dealers falsely interpret the LE exemption as a full blown free pass to sell any handgun to a
LEO. These LEOs should not look the gift horse in the mouth.
Q: Why can't I just buy something on Gunbroker/Gunsamerica and have it transferred in? Since I'm buying it from out of state this shouldn't count as an MA sale
A: The state appears to treat dealer transfers and direct sales as the same thing. So an MA dealer typically won't even transfer a noncompliant handgun if the end-recipient is an MA resident.
Q:Why can't I just drive to (insert some free state here) and buy whatever handgun I want?!?!?!?!?
A: Problem is per federal law all handgun transfers must occur in ones state of residence, and if you're reading this FAQ, you probably reside in MA. This means the FFL in the other state must send the handgun to an MA FFL before it is transferred to you, per federal law. Obviously, if the handgun isn't compliant, a typical MA FFL is going to
reject the transfer, send the gun back, or if you're lucky, tell the other dealer not even to bother sending it here.
Q: A dealer I know has non-compliant handguns in his shop. How can they do this??!?!?! Isn't that illegal????
A: The dealer is probably selling these guns to out of state residents via FFL transfer, or may be selling them to LEOs if the gun is AG exempt as described above. There is nothing stopping MA FFLs from having non-compliant guns in their inventory- it is the act of selling/transferring one to an MA consumer that is the regulated act.
Q: An MA dealer just sold me a handgun, and (for whatever reason) I think it might not be AG/EOPS compliant. Can I get in trouble????
A: Unless the handgun in question violates the MA AWB (most do not) or there are post-ban large capacity mags with it, no, you cannot get in trouble. It's basically not your problem. The best thing to do is just enjoy your new handgun and not fuss about it. (Also, don't run on to NES to tell everyone else about it, either... think about that for a moment and you'll understand why that is a dumb idea).
Q: I want to know WHY these regs are the way they are!!!???!?!? this doesn't make any sense!!!
A: There are TWO sections of law you should look at, if you want to be bored to death:
Law Governing EOPS testing of handguns:
AG's Regulations for "Handgun Safety" (AKA 940 CMR 16.00 )
Other Common (related) Questions:
Q: What do I need to buy a handgun in MA?
A: You must be an MA resident and possess a currently valid LTC A or B (An LTC B will severely restrict your options. )
Q: What about magazines that hold more than 10 rounds? I was told you can't buy any gun that can
take a large capacity magazine!!!!
A: That is at least partially wrong. An LTC-A holder can possess any "large capacity" capable handgun. However, be aware that you can only legally use "large capacity" magazines manufactured before 9/13/1994
(This issue is a whole other can of worms- see also- "MA Assault Weapons Ban" )
See Also this thread discussing Glock Mags, for example:
Q: I bought a new "MA compliant" gun that has a terrible "MA only" heavy trigger on it. I want to get it fixed.... is this illegal?
A: No, it's not illegal, and yes, you can have a gunsmith adjust the trigger to how you see fit. This is NOT illegal. About the only downside to doing this is that if you turn around to sell the gun later you might have to sell it FTF-FA-10 transfer only, as an MA FFL may not accept it because it may not be "MA compliant" anymore.
Q: I bought an MA compliant gun in one caliber. Is it legal to change the barrel? (eg, .40 to .357 sig, etc. )
A: Yes. Again, handgun compliance is only a dealer issue. Further, there is nothing in MGL which prohibits you from doing this.
Q: I am a non-resident LTC holder visiting MA and normally carry a "non compliant" handgun. Will I get in trouble because it's non compliant???
A: No. If you have a valid MA non resident LTC, and have pre-ban (eg, made before 9/94) magazines (if they hold greater than 10 rounds) you're good to go. Remember that MA handgun compliance is an issue of dealer transfers, not possession.
Q: What about AR / AK and similar style "rifles which have been cobbled into pistols"? Someone told me those are never legal in MA.
A: They may be right, depending on the construction of the pistol. Most of those types of pistols violate the MA AWB unless they were made before 9/13/94. Like the magazine issue above, however, this issue is beyond the scope of "Handgun Compliance".
Last edited by jasons; 09-26-2014 at 01:28 PM. Reason: Fixed broken link to 940 CMR 16.00
05-28-2008, 12:03 PM #2
Informative threads/links on this issue:
MA EOPS Approved Firearms Roster (Sep 2014)
MA EOPS 501 CMR 7.00 Approved Weapons Roster Regulation (details implementation of testing, etc)
MA EOPS Formal Target Shooting Roster: (December 2010)
"MA Gun Law Interpretation"
"EOPS Firearms Roster Discussion"
Law Governing EOPS testing of handguns:
AG's Regulations for "Handgun Safety" (AKA 940 CMR 16.00 )
Last edited by drgrant; 10-02-2014 at 05:05 PM. Reason: Fixed broken link
05-29-2008, 09:40 PM #3
Nice work Mike!When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. Luke 11:21
Every dead body that is not exterminated becomes one of them. It gets up and kills! The people it kills get up and kill! - Dr. Foster, Dawn of the Dead
When you are dead, you don't know you are dead. It's difficult only for others. It's the same thing when you are stupid.
Member of GOAL
Life Member of NRA
NRA Certified Firearms Instructor & Range Safety Officer
05-29-2008, 10:04 PM #4
just input here:
I thinnk the section on on the roster, compliance, etc could be clearer. The five categories are sort of confusing, perhaps there is some way to fsimplify and clarify a bit?
05-29-2008, 11:10 PM #5
05-30-2008, 09:57 AM #6
05-30-2008, 08:52 PM #7
05-31-2008, 12:29 AM #8
framework is, so they can say "yes I can transfer this gun in" no I can't, etc.
Anyways, here goes..... WARNING- much of this is rambling, so I apologize in advance... this is all written over a cigar and a cup of coffee.
In MA handgun compliance is a "two tiered" situation.
We have the EOPS (Executive Office Of Public Safety) which publishes a roster on a regular basis of handguns that have passed their testing regimen. This testing is outlined in the law.
Now, when you read the law, you realize "this testing sucks it costs the manufs money, etc etc etc...
The thing is, that isn't the real bone job when it comes to making handguns compliant in MA.
Then we get to the SECOND tier of compliance, where the real bone job occurs... by the attorney general's office. The problem there is that the AG's regs are REGULATIONS- regulations which were essentially written by the AG. The problem is even though the AG's regs are spelled out, they're not abundantly clear in terms of interpretation; eg, for dumb terms like "series of multiple motions" or "unable to be activated by a small child" (or whatever the verbiage is) the definitions of these are frequently bogus and left up to the standing AG's interpretation. The AG is essentially allowed to invent the rules as he/she goes along under the bullshit guise of "consumer protection".
So, in a nutshell, the reason we get BONED in MA on new handguns is because manufacturers have no sure fire way of determining whether or not they will be able to sell their product here even if they get it tested and even if they get it on the EOPS roster. So as a result of that, a lot of manufacturers don't even bother getting their guns tested. Some of it depends on the lawyers the gun companies have, etc. Many are just too paranoid to deal with MA laws because they don't make any sense.
Case in point- S+W, for example, is the king of getting stuff certified, and even they had to pull out one of their latest offerings, the M+P .45 because they weren't completely sure about its compliance or the AG whined about it.
Many companies don't bother with testing and so on because they're not 110% sure of a return on investment in the MA market. It's very possible, for instance, for a small gun manufacturer, to invest a lot of money in getting guns tested (IIRC its thousands of dollars per gun, not to mention the guns get destroyed in the process) and then get screwed over on the investment when the AG comes out and stops them from selling it saying "wah your gun doesnt meet my bullshit standards". The risk is too great for a lot of smaller manufacturers.
While we're on the topic, this does bear mentioning... some companies, eg, S+W, Para Ord, SVI, have gone to great lengths to try to get us a lot of new guns in MA, and they should be commended for their effort. I have to give Kudos to SVI especially, because despite the "niche" nature of their product, they actually bothered to certify guns in MA.
This compliance BS occurred over a period of time. The AG's regs were introduced by AG Harshbarger, but enforcement was mostly impotent and for awhile a lot of dealers simply either ignored the regs or creatively interpreted them. I think Harshbarger may? have hit a few dealers but he was mostly impotent, despite having come up with the whole ponzi scheme. Then when Reilly got into the AGs seat, things took a turn even worse- there were stings, AG moles, all kinds of other crap, and dealers getting hit left and right. Reilly was even worse than Harshbarger,IMO. Now we have "Frau Coakley" who seems to be enforcing the BS similar to Reilly, but it remains to be seen how vigorous she will be in comparison. Minimal evidence on the ground indicates "reilly clone" more or less, so far.
I'm not exactly sure when the EOPS regs were coded into law, perhaps as part of GCA98? Maybe someone more familiar with the exact background can fill in the blanks for me here. Regardless, the EOPS regs, while onerous, at least are "burned into law" and easy to understand compared to the AGs bullshit. If all we had to deal with was EOPS, there would be a lot more guns on the roster and a lot more would be available.
Also, many ask "What about a LAWSUIT against the AG?" IIRC, there was an effort to do this awhile ago by some dealers assoc. in MA but somewhere the ball got dropped when there was a changing of a guard in this group; I've also heard noises (on NES and elsewhere) that some attorneys don't see an end game in such a lawsuit.
FWIW, there is a lot more to it than what I've written here... there is a wealth of info about it, buried on NES. The search function is your
Last edited by drgrant; 06-11-2008 at 12:05 AM.
05-31-2008, 01:17 AM #9
- Join Date
- Jun 2007
good post. It still enrages me to no end that we just bend over and take this bull.... Where else in "America" do we see this???? Is there even another state that you cannot buy new glocks from dealers??
05-31-2008, 01:31 AM #10
Last edited by drgrant; 09-16-2008 at 12:36 PM.