Assault Weapons in Massachusetts

See our Assault Weapons policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

No person in Massachusetts may sell, offer for sale, transfer or possess an assault weapon (or large capacity feeding device, see the Large Capacity Ammunition Magazines section) that was not otherwise lawfully possessed on September 13, 1994.1 Firearms dealers are also specifically prohibited from selling, leasing, renting, transferring, delivering, or offering for sale, lease, rent, transfer or delivery, any assault weapon or large capacity feeding device not otherwise lawfully possessed on September 13, 1994.2

Massachusetts defines “assault weapon” by referring to the definition of semi-automatic assault weapon contained in federal law as it appeared on September 13, 1994 (that federal statute expired on September 13, 2004).3 The definition includes a list of named weapons and copies of those weapons; semi-automatic rifles and pistols that have the ability to accept a detachable magazine and have at least two specified characteristics; and semi-automatic shotguns that have at least two specified characteristics.

  1. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131M. ⤴︎
  2. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 123 (Sixteenth). ⤴︎
  3. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 121 (referring to the federal Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, former 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(30) ). ⤴︎

Assault Weapons in Minnesota

Minnesota does not generally ban assault weapons, but has adopted a series of statutes regulating the possession and sale of certain “semiautomatic military-style assault weapons.” A firearm is considered a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon if it is on the list of over two dozen named types of regulated firearms,1 or is another model of a listed firearm, is made by the same manufacturer as the listed firearm, has the same action design, and

• Is a redesigned, renamed, or renumbered version; or

• Has a slight modification or enhancement (such as a folding or retractable stock; adjustable sight; case deflector for left-handed shooters; shorter barrel; wooden, plastic, or metal stock; larger clip size; different caliber; or a bayonet mount).2

Moreover, a firearm is also classified as a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon if it was manufactured or sold under a licensing agreement with a manufacturer of one of the listed firearms to manufacture or sell firearms that are identical or nearly identical to a listed firearm or a firearm described above.3

A firearm that is generally recognized as “particularly suitable or readily adaptable to sporting purposes” or any of its regulations is not a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon.4

In addition, Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is required to publish a list of firearms included within the definition of semiautomatic military-style assault weapon. The Bureau is required to update the list annually.5

Minnesota prohibits the possession of semiautomatic military-style assault weapons by persons who are under 18 years of age.6 Such persons may carry or possess a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon only:

• In the actual presence or under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian;

• For the purposes of a military drill while under competent supervision, under the auspices of a legally recognized military organization;

• For instruction, competition or target practice under direct supervision on a law enforcement-approved firing range; or

• Upon successful completion of a course designed to teach marksmanship and safety with a handgun or semiautomatic military-style assault weapon and approved by the state commissioner of natural resources.7

A person charged with a crime punishable by more than one year imprisonment may not receive, ship, or transport a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon.8

A person who wishes to acquire a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon may apply to his or her local chief of police or county sheriff for a transferee permit, although a transferee permit is not required for purchase of such weapons.9 See Licensing of Gun Purchasers or Owners in Minnesota for further information.

With certain limited exceptions, if a person wishes to acquire a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon from a federally licensed dealer, but does not have a transferee permit or a permit to carry a handgun, the dealer must file a report with the police chief or sheriff, who then performs a background check.10 See Background Checks in Minnesota for further information.

A person commits a gross misdemeanor if he or she intentionally transfers a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon to a person he or she knows:

• Has been denied a permit to carry a weapon because the transferee is not eligible under Minnesota law to possess an assault weapon; or

• Has been found ineligible to possess an assault weapon by law enforcement as a result of an application for a transferee permit or transfer report.11

See our Assault Weapons policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Minn. Stat. § 624.712, subd. 7(1) lists more than two dozen named types of firearms that are considered “semiautomatic military-style assault weapons.” ⤴︎
  2. Minn. Stat. § 624.712, subd. 7(2). ⤴︎
  3. Minn. Stat. § 624.712, subd. 7(3). An exception exists for licensing agreements entered into before August 1, 1993, the effective date of the statute. ⤴︎
  4. 18 U.S.C. § 925(d)(3). ⤴︎
  5. Minn. Stat. § 624.712, subd. 8. ⤴︎
  6. Minn. Stat. § 624.713, subd. 1(1). ⤴︎
  7. Id. ⤴︎
  8. Minn. Stat. § 624.713, subd. 1a. ⤴︎
  9. See Minn. Stat. § 624.7131. ⤴︎
  10. Minn. Stat. § 624.7132, subd. 1, subd. 2; see also Minn. Stat. § 624.7132, subd. 12 (exempting transfers from non-dealers from this requirement). ⤴︎
  11. Minn. Stat. § 624.7141, subd. 1. ⤴︎

Assault Weapons in New Jersey

New Jersey prohibits the knowing possession of “assault firearms”1 (unless the purchaser or possessor is licensed to possess the assault firearm or the weapon is registered or rendered inoperable), defined to include:

  • More than 50 specified firearms or their copies;2
  • A semi-automatic shotgun with either a magazine capacity exceeding six rounds, a pistol grip, or a folding stock;3
  • A semi-automatic rifle with a fixed magazine capacity exceeding 15 rounds;4 and
  • A part or combination of parts designed or intended to convert a firearm into an assault firearm, or any combination of parts from which an assault firearm may be readily assembled if those parts are in the possession or under the control of the same person.5

Any person seeking to purchase or possess an assault firearm in New Jersey may apply for a license to do so by filing a written application with his or her county’s superior court, setting forth in detail the reasons for desiring such a license.6 “No license shall be issued to any person who would not qualify for a permit to carry a handgun…and no license shall be issued unless the court finds that the public safety and welfare so require.”7 See the section entitled Concealed Weapons Permitting in New Jersey for additional information.

New Jersey prohibits any person from manufacturing, transporting, shipping, selling or disposing of an assault firearm without being registered or licensed to do so under state law.8

Any person who lawfully purchased an assault firearm on or before May 1, 1990 was permitted to register that weapon within one year, if the Attorney General determined it was of a type used for legitimate target-shooting purposes.9 The owner was also required to pay a $50 fee per weapon, produce for inspection a valid Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FPIC), a valid permit to carry handguns, or a copy of the permit to purchase a handgun which was used to purchase the assault firearm being registered, and submit valid proof of membership in a rifle or pistol club.10

Upon the death of a registered owner of an assault firearm, the owner’s heirs or estate have 90 days to either transfer the weapon to someone lawfully entitled to own or possess it, render it inoperable, or voluntarily surrender the gun to law enforcement.11

Finally, any person who offers to sell a semi-automatic rifle or “assault firearm” by means of an advertisement published in a newspaper circulating within New Jersey, where the advertisement does not specify that the purchaser is required to possess a valid New Jersey license to purchase and possess an assault firearm, or a valid FPIC to purchase and possess a semi-automatic rifle, is criminally liable for a misdemeanor.12

See our Assault Weapons policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-5f. “Assault Firearm” is defined under N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-1w. ⤴︎
  2. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-1(w)(1), (2). ⤴︎
  3. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-1(w)(3). ⤴︎
  4. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-1(w)(4). ⤴︎
  5. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-1(w)(5). ⤴︎
  6. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-5a. ⤴︎
  7. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-5b. Licenses expire two years from the date of issue. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-5g. See N.J. Admin. Code §§ 13:54-5.1 – 13:54-5.4, 13:54-5.6 – 13:54-5.7 for further information on assault firearms. ⤴︎
  8. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-9g. ⤴︎
  9. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-12b. ⤴︎
  10. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-12b. ⤴︎
  11. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-12f. See also N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-13 (provisions for prior owners who chose not to register their assault firearms). ⤴︎
  12. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-15. ⤴︎