Improper Storage of a Firearm

It is illegal in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to improperly store a firearm. Whether you are lawfully licensed to own or carry a firearm or not, improper storage is a criminal offense. Anyone in Massachusetts who doesn’t store a firearm properly can be charged with a crime.

In Massachusetts, a gun must be in a locked container when it is stored.

In other words, proper storage means that a gun is either:

  • In a locked container
  • Has a properly engaged, tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device

What is a securely locked container?

First, a “securely locked container” is a container that can only be unlocked by using a key, combination, or some other similar means, like a dial. Examples of securely locked containers include:

  • A safe
  • A firearm box
  • A locked cabinet
  • A gun cases
  • A lock boxes

In some cases, whether or not an object is a securely locked container may be unclear. When this happens, factors that are taken into consideration include:

  • What kind of locking mechanism is attached?
  • Where is the container located?
  • Was the container locked or alarmed?
  • Would the container deter (discourage) another person from accessing it?

Second, to “properly engage” a safety device means that with the device the gun cannot be used by any person other than the owner or other lawfully authorized user. An example of this could include a working gunlock with a combination that only the owner and any other permitted users know.

What is improper storage?

It is illegal to improperly store a firearm. However, if the government wants to convict a person under this law then they must prove these three things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The accused stored or kept a gun
  • The accused was not carrying the gun or did not have it under their immediate control
  • The gun was not stored in either a locked container or with a properly engaged tamper-resistant mechanical lock or safety device

What are the punishments?

Massachusetts takes its gun laws very seriously. The punishments are real, but differ based on what type of weapon was improperly stored.

A violation involving a firearm, rifle, or shotgun is a misdemeanor. The punishment is a fine between $1,000 to $7,500and/or up to 1 and ½ years in jail time.

A violation involving a large capacity weapon is a felony. The punishment for this version of the crime is a fine between $2,000 and $15,000 and/or between 1 and ½ years to 12 years in state prison.

The penalties get even more severe if a person under 18 years old may have had access to the improperly stored weapon.

What does it mean to carry?

To convict a person of improper storage, the government must prove that the accused person was not carrying the gun or did not have it under their immediate control.

Carrying a firearm means having it under actual physical control. This could include physically holding the firearm or having it holstered. Basically “immediate control” could also mean being physically close enough to the gun to immediately prevent its use by people not allowed to use it.

What are defenses to improper firearms storage?

If you are accused of improperly storing a firearm, contact a criminal defense attorney right away. Based on the unique circumstances of your case, there may be defenses available to you.

Your defense attorney will thoroughly review the facts and evidence of your case and consider questions like:

  • Was the firearm yours or someone else’s?
  • Where was the firearm when police arrived?
  • Was the firearm under your immediate control?
  • Was there a lock or safety device on the firearm?
  • Was the firearm properly stored?
  • Was the safety device working?

These questions may sound straightforward, but the answers to them could make a big difference in the outcome of your case. If the government cannot prove even one of the three things that it is required to show then you must be acquitted.

IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH A GUN CRIME, AND YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER WORKING ON YOUR SIDE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, PLEASE CONTACT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY WILLIAM J. BARABINO.

CALL 781-393-5900 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR AVAILABLE DEFENSES.

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