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What is felony possession of a firearm in Massachusetts?

The Massachusetts legislature has enacted several laws intended to curb gun violence. These laws apply mainly to handguns, which are defined as a firearm with a barrel less than 16" long. Two major provisions affect the possession and use of handguns.

The first important limitation is the requirement that no one can possess a firearm away from his home or business unless that person has a valid license to carry a firearm. The law provides for two kinds of licenses. A Class A license allows the holder to possess a firearm but does not allow concealment of the weapon. A Class B license allows a person to carry a concealed weapon. No Class B licenses have been issued since January 1, 2015, but Class B licenses remain effective until their current expiration date. Anyone who is convicted of carrying a firearm without possessing a valid license can be imprisoned for 2-1/2 to five years in a state prison or 18 months to 2-1/2 years in a state workhouse.

A second type of crime involving the possession of a firearm is the commission of a felony while possessing a firearm, rifle or shotgun. Anyone who is convicted of a committing a felony while having a firearm in his or her possession shall be given a mandatory sentence in addition to the sentence for the felony itself. The penalty is five years imprisonment in the state prison. If a person is convicted of committing a felony while in possession of a "large capacity weapon," the additional sentence is not less than 10 years.

Violation of the state's gun laws is a serious offense. Anyone who is charged with possessing a firearm without a valid license or using a firearm in the commission of a felony will, if convicted, serve a significant term of imprisonment. The advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney may be helpful in evaluating the evidence, forming a defense strategy and, under the right circumstances, negotiating a favorable plea agreement.

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