Large-Capacity Gun Permits Rise in Bedford

See how many gun permits were issued in Bedford 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 29 percent in Bedford since 2008, according to state records. Ownership permits for smaller-capacity firearms have increased moderately.

'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.

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Since 2008, the number of gun permits issued to Bedford residents has increased for Class A licenses, Class B licenses, Firearms ID Cards and Firearms ID Cards to carry chemical propellants like mace. 

Firearms ID Cards fluctuated between 2008 and 2011, but rose from 61 issued in 2008 to 64 issued in 2012. ID Cards for chemical propellants like mace rose from 25 issued in 2008 to 35 issued in 2012. 

Non-Large-Capacity Class B licenses increased from eight issued in 2008 to 13 in 2012. 

Unlike some surrounding communities, there have been no licences to carry machine guns issued to Bedford residents since 2008. While licenses for machine guns are not issued to Massachusetts residents, firearms instructors and gun collectors are allowed to apply for licenses to possess machine guns.

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.

Type of License 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Firearms ID Card 61 68 73 68 64 Firearms ID Card (Mace) 25 31 35 34 35 Class A, License to Carry Large-Capacity 398 437 467 488 514 Class B License to Carry, Non-Large-Capacity 8 9 10 10 13

     Check out a graph of this data in the photo box to the right. 


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

Zaphod January 23, 2013 at 05:15 PM
I think it is great. Studies show towns with more gun owners have less violent crime. We need more law abiding citizens and responsible gun owners.
Doug Weeks January 23, 2013 at 05:53 PM
This article is a little misleading. A permit holder in Massachusetts cannot purchase a firearm with a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds. That has been the law for some time here and only "Massachusetts Compliant" firearms may be purchased which have additional restrictions.
Robert Kalantari January 24, 2013 at 12:11 AM
Massachusetts has very strict gun laws; no one with any felony can obtain a gun permit, large or small capacity, or FID. Our town police department has done an excellent job of screening the applicants and granting licenses to only law abiding citizens. We have good laws in place in Massachusetts that works. Based on this some of the recently proposed new bills for gun violence and gun control are unnecessary. These bills include the proposed 25% tax on ammunitions, mandatory liability insurance for lawful citizens owning legal guns, reducing the current clip capacity from 10 to seven rounds, which will make many pistols illegal along with purchase restrictions and limiting to one gun purchase each month are totally useless and unnecessary. These proposed bills will do nothing to help fight the gun violence in our state by the criminals, instead, create unnecessary restrictions and hardship for lawful gun owners.
Joe Piantedosi January 24, 2013 at 02:13 PM
Doug you are correct for all new firearms, however firearms legally purchased in Mass prior to September 13, 1994 that have high capacity magazines can be purchased by class A license holders. On another note it is sad to see the media and others attacking lawful license gun owners and creating more restrictions on top of the very strict controls that are already in place. The emphasis of any new law needs to focus on criminals and mentally ill persons not lawful citizens.


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