Large-Capacity Gun Permits Soar in Sudbury

See how many gun permits were issued in Sudbury 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 40 percent in Sudbury since 2008, according to state records. Ownership permits for smaller-capacity firearms are unchanged.

"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 Sudbury 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

11 11 10



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

Class A Licensee January 22, 2013 at 11:41 PM
The increase in Class-A permits (allowing a good person to keep a firearm at home that can accept magazines over 10-rounds) is no surprise: more lawful residents have become interested in armed home-defense and have taken their cue from the police. The police are the experts on what firearms are best suited to non-military use for protection of innocent life and which firearms accomplish that protection with minimal risk to themselves and bystanders. Police departments all over the US use firearms that accept magazines with greater than 10 rounds. Similarly, police demand that ammunition they use be tested rigorously for dependability and safety. They don't want ammunition that is excessively injurious to the person shot; they choose ammunition just powerful enough to stop the threat. I am not sure what restrictions are proposed for "high-power" ammunition nor even what "high-power" ammunition is; it may be a term that encompasses all police/home-defense ammunition, and all large-game hunting ammunition. That would be quite a restriction on legal owners. Any restriction on home-defense ammunition gives the advantage to armed criminals (who will not obey any new laws) over law-abiding armed defenders (who will). Machineguns aren't used for home-defense. Licensed machineguns all date from before 1986 and are tightly controlled by the state and ATF. They are rare collector's items bought as investments, with prices running from roughly $4,000-$70,000 and up.
Paula Mackenzi January 23, 2013 at 12:23 AM
@ Liberty and Class A: thank you for the explanation of the machine gun which now does not seem ludicrous at all. I thought perhaps it may be an antique but without any information in the story to support same, it was a valid concern to question. And again @ Liberty & Class A - thank you very much for answering my other questions. I appreciate your taking the time to do same.
Class A Licensee January 23, 2013 at 02:41 AM
:) You're very welcome. I thank the other responders, too. I agree that sometimes news stories are a bit thin on the background details, so it makes sense for us to help each other out
LCT January 23, 2013 at 06:53 AM
"Sharing relevant mental health information with a state database, which would more easily help federal officials perform background checks on prospective gun buyers." "Modifying health care privacy laws to make more mental health information available for background checks." In theory I understand & agree with background checks. However, I have a problem where private health info, local PD. state officials & the Feds merge. I disagree 100% with a doctor asking me, during a routine office visit, about guns I may own. Who knows what the doctor's personal opinion is of gun ownership; I suspect many oppose it. thus causing bias. That fact could "cloud" what a doctor writes down & ultimately reports to the government. (I also disagree with using doctors as "agents" of the Feds to snoop.) On the other hand, I doubt local/state/Fed law enforcement have the necessary training/education to make "decisions" about mental health issues & issuance of gun permits; law enforcement isn't in the diagnosis business. BTW, the licensing figures for Sudbury are interesting. In numerous towns, the figures would be reversed (way less licenses to carry issued) as many towns turn down 99% of permits to carry, just because they can. MA is a "may issue" state, not a "shall issue" state. This policy creates a wide variety of hoops to jump through depending on which town you live in to get a license. The entire state should have consistent rules, not a bunch of little fifedoms.
sudburycitizentoo January 23, 2013 at 12:24 PM
How many permits were issued for king-size mattresses?


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