Wellesley Large Capacity Gun Licenses Soar in Last Five Years

See how many gun permits were issued in Wellesley over the past few years.


The Beretta 92 pistol, the SPAS-12 shotgun

These are examples of the types of large-capacity firearms for which permits have increased about 30 percent in Wellesley 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 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.


Since 2008, the number of gun permits issued to Wellesley residents has increased for some types of firearms, and shown some fluctuation in other areas, 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.

Note that these numbers say nothing of the types and number of weapons, if any, the bearer holds. These licenses are also issued to people who meet the minimum requirements listed below.  







Firearms ID Card






Firearms ID Card (Mace)






Class A, License to Carry Large-Capacity






Class B License to Carry, Non-Large-Capacity


7 6



License to Possess A Machine Gun







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

anonymous January 22, 2013 at 09:14 PM
Just to correct some inaccuracies in your report, several of the firearms you identify as "assault weapons" (including the AR-15) are not. The term "assault weapon" is a recent addition to the lexicon and is a term of art. It refers to any firearm that has a MORE THAN 2 of the following components: detachable magazine, pistol grip, bayonet lug, mortar attachment, telescoping or folding butt stock. In Massachusetts, several semi-automatic firearms, including the AR type rifle, are still legal to sell. In addition, Gov. Patrick's recent proposal will essentially outlaw the future sale of almost all semi-automatic handguns and long-guns. Most modern firearms are capable of holding 10 or more rounds of ammunition. The way this has been managed is to restrict the sale of large capacity magazines to law enforcement or to those that were "pre-ban". As to "high-powered ammunition", every round of ammunition we are talking about is essentially a hunting round (including the 5.56 used by the AR-15 and the .30 cal (30-06 or .308) which is used in many bolt action hunting rifles (note: in Mass which only allows shotgun or black powder hunting). We need sensible background checks and programs that deal with mental health issues. The bottom line is that if you check the numbers, the statistic related to crimes committed by lawful gunowners involving a gun is almost non-existent. Finally, something to consider, virtually every gun ever made was originally a military weapon.
Robert January 22, 2013 at 11:18 PM
Annonymous, Ma. has a non expiring continuation of the so called 1994 "Assault Weapons Ban". In the mass shooting as of late, the "high capacity" they were referring to were 30 round magazines. Under the Massachusetts AWB you can not go into a store and buy a new 30 round mag. Obama would love to get the laws Ma. already has applied to the rest of the country. Politicians can call any magazines capacity "high capacity" by simply changing their definition to excite the citizens. More than one is "high capacity".
Robert January 22, 2013 at 11:33 PM
>>>"Gov. Patrick's recent proposal will essentially outlaw the future sale of almost all semi-automatic handguns and long-guns".<<< So you would agree that this new law is an end round way of removing firearms from the law abiding, tax paying resident of Massachusetts? A backdoor way of removing our right to the 2nd Amendment. Why does the example of "hunting" come into play here?? No where in the 2nd Amendment does it mention existing for the purposes of hunting.
anonymous January 22, 2013 at 11:58 PM
Yes, it's a complete and total end around. FYI, the reason for putting in the example about hunting is that most uninformed people assume that the bullets being fired by "assault rifles" are some super special military killer bullets, rather than what many people use to shoot deer (30-06/.308) or a coyote/other varmint (5.56/.223). Additionally, the media hypes the whole "assault weapon" thing, but being made out of plastic, having a pistol grip and being painted black doesn't make it evil or any better or worse than any other. It's a tool and like any other tool, it's the reckless, careless or intentional misuse by an operator that causes the harm. That said, I frankly, don't have a problem with a limit on magazine capacity; but it should remain at 10 rounds. While in my view, this is may be unnecessary, in light of recent events, it's also not completely unreasonable.
Robert January 23, 2013 at 12:54 AM
Thanks for the explanation. I agree with all of your points. Even the mag count. I would also like to see a follow through with this push to keep firearms out of the hand of the mentally ill. Got to love the increased penalty for being in a school zone with a firearm. Now that will make a mad man think twice before he acts.


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