Large-Capacity Gun Permits Soar in Watertown

See how many gun permits were issued in Watertown 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 22 percent in Watertown since 2008, according to state records. Ownership permits for smaller-capacity firearms have moderately fluctuated.

'Large-capacity' firearms are defined by the state of Massachusetts as semi-automatic handguns or rifles with the capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition 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.


Since 2008, the number of gun permits issued to Watertown residents has increased for some types of 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








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/FALSteyr-AUGTEC-9Uzis, 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 Watertown? Are you surprised at the jump in permit applications for large-capacity weapons? Let us know in the comments section below.

GB January 22, 2013 at 04:01 PM
It appears that we should maybe join the current hysteria, and suggest that the evidence shows that all Registered Democrats should be confiscated! We know who they are...they're Registered! Why is it that none of the disturbed and evil men, who steal guns then go and kill movie-goers and children in school, has ever been identified as a Conservative NRA Member? ~Ft Hood: Registered Democrat; Muslim. ~Columbine: Too young to Vote; Both Shooters families were Registered Democrats and Progressive Liberals. ~Virginia Tech: Wrote hate-mail to President Bush and his staff; Registered Democrat. ~Aurora, Colorado: Registered Democrat; Staff worker on the Obama campaign; Occupy Wall Street participant; Progressive Liberal. ~Newtown, Connecticut: Registered Democrat; Hated Christian Niedermaier. Common thread is that All of these Shooters were Progressive Liberal Democrats. ...INTERESTING, isn't it?
Mike DelRose Jr. January 22, 2013 at 05:23 PM
While it's an interesting coincidence there is no correlation between political party and these crimes . Because the common thread here is mental illness, signs of depression, being a loner, hateful, etc.. Also, there are very few instances if any where I hear about a model law-abiding citizen and gun owner causing the problem. But none the less violent crime is an issue and no matter your political stance, know that there are good people trying to prevent these things through legislation even if it's not always the best idea. .
david January 22, 2013 at 05:56 PM
John Brosnahan and Dominic Pizzi come to mind
Mike DelRose Jr. January 22, 2013 at 07:07 PM
Well there you go. It still has nothing to do with political affiliation which is all I'm trying to say.
Mara January 22, 2013 at 07:42 PM
Let's get facts into this absurd conversation: Ft. Hood shooter lived in either Virginia or Texas and neither state has partisan registration. So there's no proof of any kind that he was a Democrat or anything else. Ditto for Virginia Tech shooter. Aurora theatre shooter was not registered to vote at all. Newtown shooter: no evidence at all of political party membership for him or his family Columbine shooters: no evidence of political party membership. One kid's father was Air Force retired (pilot). Not that this indicates anything about politics, but he's hardly unAmerican. There are counter-arguments that extreme right-wingers have initiated mass killings but I won't honor this silly comment with more of my time. Stop getting your "facts" from right-wing radio hosts and you'll be able to hold a serious conversation.


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